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Protect yourself from scams

It seems like more and more, we hear about scams against seniors. We’ve heard of individuals or groups posing as insurance or Medicare representatives in order to gain access to an individual’s Medicare card or other personal information.

These “imposters” may attempt to access this information by calling an individual on the phone or dropping by their home unannounced to sell Medicare plans.

It is of utmost importance to avoid becoming a victim of these types of scams.

Follow these very important tips from our friends at the Ohio Department of Insurance (www.insurance.ohio.gov) so that you can protect yourself or someone you know:

·Be wary of individuals who claim they work for Medicare. Medicare representatives do not make house calls or solicit beneficiaries by telephone.

·Be cautious of individuals selling Medicare products door-to-door. If someone comes to your home without a scheduled appointment, do not let the individual in your home or provide them with personal information.

·Be a smart consumer. Some Medicare products may have no monthly premium, but be sure to know what other costs (deductibles, co-insurance) you would be responsible for with the plan.

·Be leery of insurance agents who tell you your enrollment in a Medicare Advantage Plan will not affect your Medicare coverage.

When you sign up for a Medicare Advantage Plan, you will be removed from your traditional Medicare plan and may incur more expenses in terms of deductibles and co-payments.

·Do not be persuaded by an insurance agent who tries to scare you into believing your Medicare rates are going to increase if you do not switch plans immediately.

Please also keep these consumer tips in mind:

·Protect your personal information. Do not give your Social Security or bank account numbers.

·Before you purchase a Medicare product, contact the Ohio Department of Insurance at 1-800-686-1527 to see if any consumer complaints have been filed against the company.

·Do not sign any paperwork until you have a trusted advisor confirm that the product will meet your needs.

·Contact your healthcare providers to verify they participate in the plan or accept the plan you are considering.

If you believe that you or someone you know has been the victim of this type of scam, please contact our Area Agency on Aging District 7 (AAA7) Regional Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program at 1-800-582-7277.

They can report the fraud to the appropriate authorities and organizations, and answer any questions you may have.

The Ohio Senior Health Insurance Information Program (OSHIIP) of the Ohio Department of Insurance provides free information and services to Medicare beneficiaries and the people who care for them.

For more information, call them toll-free at 1-800-686-1578.

In addition, the Area Agency on Aging District 7 provides help and assistance to individuals in our ten counties who have questions about Medicare plans including Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit (Part D).

For more information, contact Kristy Bowman with the Area Agency on Aging at 1-800-582-7277.

 

Pamela K. Matura is executive director of the Area Agency on Aging District 7. The non-profit agency serves senior citizens in Adams, Brown, Gallia, Highland, Jackson, Lawrence, Pike, Ross, Scioto and Vinton counties.