Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) is upon us. This is the time period, from October 15 – December 7, when you have the opportunity to make changes to your Medicare coverage. During AEP you can:
- Change from one Medicare Advantage plan to another
- Switch from Medicare Advantage to Original Medicare
- Enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan
- Enroll in a Medicare Part D plan
- Change from one Medicare Part D plan to another
- Disenroll from a Medicare Part D plan
You Should Review Your Current Coverage Every Year
Perhaps your circumstances have changed, and your current Medicare coverage is no longer the best fit. AEP is the time to find a better plan.
If you are happy with your current coverage, you don’t need to take any action. But it’s a good practice to review the Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) letter you receive from your insurer in September. The ANOC will tell you what is changing with your plan for the upcoming year. This can include changes to premiums, deductibles and copays, benefits, network changes, as well as any changes to the drug formulary. If any of these changes negatively impact you, you can look for more suitable coverage during AEP.
Watch for Scams and Potential Fraud
You may have noticed already that you are being inundated with mailers, TV commercials and even phone calls, all soliciting different Medicare plans. This is a very active time for Medicare scammers, so you need to very vigilant so that you do not fall victim to fraudsters.
Here are some things you should watch for:
- Unsolicited visits – No one should ever visit you uninvited. Do not speak with anyone who shows up at your home unannounced.
- Unsolicited phone calls – Medicare will not call you unless you have contacted them asking for assistance. Scammers can use a fake caller ID to impersonate Medicare or another organization you may be familiar with. Never assume the caller is who they say they are. Do not give your Medicare number, Social Security number or any other identifying information to anyone calling on the phone. Your information could be used to file false claims or steal your identity. You should hang up immediately. Scammers have become very proficient at extracting information. The longer you stay on the phone the more likely you are to divulge information to them.
- Emails with Medicare promotions – Emails are one of the easiest ways Medicare scammers can trick you. They may mask their real email address with a fake one that looks legitimate. Never click any links in these emails. Remember Medicare will not email you asking you for information. They will send you a letter in the event they need any information from you.
- Advertisements for 800 numbers to national call centers offering Medicare plans – Be wary of these ads, many of which feature celebrities who are paid to pitch Medicare plans for these companies. Complaints to Medicare have increased significantly with the proliferation of these national call centers. Medicare has received complaints that callers have been signed up for another plan without their knowledge or approval. Also, people have been signed up for a plan with no local network so their local doctors and hospitals are considered out of network and may not be covered. These call centers have no knowledge of your local area, nor do they take the time to assess your personal situation to find the best plan for you.
- Call recording requirements – Medicare now requires that all Medicare agents must record all sales calls with beneficiaries. If your call is not being recorded that is a red flag that you are not dealing with a reputable agent. If you are speaking with a local licensed agent and do not wish to be recorded, you can request to meet in person.
If you experience fraud, or are suspicious of possible fraud, you should call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) to report it.
The Benefits of Working with a Local Texas Medicare Agent
Not having to worry about scams and fraud is just one of many benefits of working with a local Texas Medicare agent. Medicare can be complex and understanding your options during AEP can be confusing. You want to be sure to find the right plan that meets your current needs.
A local, licensed, independent agent represents many health insurance companies. They will be familiar with all the plans available in your area. They can present you with plan options from different insurers, increasing your chances of finding the right fit. They cannot advocate for one plan over another, so you will receive information on all the Medicare options available to you.
They will take the time to discuss your personal situation. They will ask about your doctors and specialists, your medications, and any budgetary constraints you may have in order to find the best plan. A local agent can help you change plans if the one you initially enrolled in does not meet your current needs. Their services will not cost you anything.
Once you have established a relationship with a local Medicare agent, you will continue to get personalized customer service throughout the year. If you have questions or need to reassess the plan you are enrolled in, it is reassuring to know you will have a trusted resource who is there for you whenever you need them.
Our knowledgeable and experienced agents are here to make Medicare easy for you. We can help you understand your options and make the right decision. Call us for a referral or look for us in your local H-E-B and Walmart stores.