These scams are more common than many people realize. Learn what to look for and how to protect yourself, your health and your finances.
Dealing with medical insurance or Medicare can be complex and confusing. Scammers use that fact to take advantage of people, especially seniors. But with a little bit of knowledge, you can protect yourself and your loved ones.
7 Ways to Spot a Medicare or Insurance Scam
1. Someone from the government unexpectedly makes contact to ask for personal information or money. Government agencies do not do this. If anyone calls you on the phone and asks for sensitive information like your Social Security Number, bank account or credit card numbers, do not give it to them! You are almost certainly dealing with a scam. Scammers have even been known to show up out of the blue at people’s doors. When in doubt, leave the unexpected visitor outside, lock your door, look up the agency’s number and call them directly.
2. A website asks for sensitive information for an insurance quote. Social Security Numbers, bank account information and credit card numbers are not needed to get a quote for health insurance.
3. Someone offers free medical supplies or checkups. Scammers might offer something like a free neck or knee brace, then request sensitive information like a Medicare or Social Security Number. Or, they might ask for a credit card number for “shipping and handling.” Scammers have even been known to provide bogus services at makeshift clinics and then bill Medicare.
4. Someone requests payment or sensitive information to issue a new card. You will never have to pay for a new Medicare card.
5. Payment requested by wire, cryptocurrency or gift cards. These are scammers’ favorite forms of money because they are hard to trace.
6. Payment requested in exchange for help navigating the Health Insurance Marketplace. The Navigators or Assisters who offer legitimate help with the marketplace are not allowed to charge you.
7. Someone makes contact about enrolling a senior in Medicare Part D. Legitimate plan representatives can only handle enrollments when the senior first calls them. Similarly, anyone who shows up uninvited at a senior’s house selling drug coverage is a scammer. The law says prescription drug benefit companies can’t visit your home unless you’ve given them permission in advance.
What to Do If You Suspect a Scam
Report health insurance and medical discount scams to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov and your state attorney general. Report Medicare scams at Medicare.gov or 1-800-633-4227. Your report or the report a senior in your life completes can help law enforcement stop scammers from taking advantage of someone else. Keep others safe by warning your friends, family and neighbors.
Safer Ways to Sign Up for Health Coverage
Seniors should visit a trusted source like Medicare.gov or HealthCare.gov to learn about legitimate options. It is recommended they and their caregivers research multiple companies before choosing. Do an online search for the name of each company with words like “complaint,” “scam,” or “fraud.” Read reviews to see what others are saying.
Finally, no one should ever sign up on their own for an individual or family insurance policy before asking to see a statement of benefits or a complete copy of the policy. Verify salesperson statements about the plan’s coverage through the statement of benefits. Even legitimate salespeople have been known to misrepresent the facts to make a sale.
Bonus Tip: Be Wary of Medical Discount Plans
Medical discount plans are not substitutes for health insurance. With these plans, you typically pay a monthly fee for discounts on specific services or products from a list of participating providers. Some discount plans are legitimate, but others take your money and give you very little in return. And dishonest marketers may try to make it sound like you are buying health insurance when you really are not. Don’t give in to pressure to sign up right away.
Verify that a plan is really health insurance. You don’t want to sign up for a plan thinking you have health insurance only to find out you don’t have coverage when you need it. Companies that sell health insurance are required to be licensed by your state insurance commissioner. You can check with your state insurance commissioner’s office. If they are not licensed, what they are selling is not insurance.
Heritage Bank cares about our customers and our community. We are committed to educating you so you can protect yourself and your finances from scams. To learn about more common scams and fraud, visit https://www.ourheritage.bank/Fraud.
Heritage Bank. Member FDIC.