State Offers Medicare Fraud Protection Valuable Tips
Submitted by the Maryland Department of Aging State Health Insurance Assistance Program/Senior Medicare Patrol Program
1. Protect personal information as Medicare prescription drug plans are marketing.
Although Medicare prescription drug coverage officially begins the first day of January, marketing of the Medicare prescription drug plans to consumers began on the first of October each year. Marketing of Medicare supplemental plans and Medicare Advantage plans are not bound by these restrictions and can market their products at any time.
2. Protect your Medicare number as you would your credit card information.
Don't give out your personal information, such as Social Security number, bank account numbers or credit card numbers to plan marketing representatives. Plans are not allowed to request such personal information in their marketing activities.
3. Medicare prescription drug plans will have the "Medicare-Approved" seal on their materials.
The seal has "Medicare Rx" in large letters with "Prescription Drug Coverage" in smaller letters under that.
4. People who are really marketing a Medicare prescription drug plan can't come to your home uninvited.
Door-to-door marketing is prohibited. However, plan representatives may come to your home if they call and make an appointment with you or if you send in a postcard requesting additional information from a representative.
5. You will be able to enroll in plans over the Internet, but plans can't ask for payment over the Internet.
If you enroll over the Internet, the plan must send you a bill.
6. Telemarketing of Medicare prescription drug plans is allowed with some limitations.
Plans can only call between the hours of 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. You cannot be enrolled in a plan or asked to pay for a drug plan over the phone, during that initial call. However, plans can request that you call them back to enroll, offer to send information or to arrange an appointment for a representative to visit your home.
7. To stop repeated and unwanted sales calls simply say "stop."
Plans are required to honor your "do not call again" requests.
8. Any telemarketing of Medicare prescription drug plans must comply with the Do-Not-Call Registry.
To avoid all telemarketing calls register with the federal "do not call" list by calling 1-888-382-1222 or go to www.donotcall.gov.
9. Pharmacists, physicians and other health care providers cannot steer beneficiaries to a plan that furthers their own financial interests.
However, these providers can provide objective information, announce their contractual relationship with a plan sponsor and assist consumers in choosing a plan that best meets their needs.
10. Medicare doesn't recommend one plan over another.
It will be your choice.
11. Be informed.
Detailed information about the Medicare drug plan and the plans available for Marylanders can be found in the Medicare and You 2009 handbook, mailed to consumers. Baltimore County offers many research assistance days that individuals can take advantage of for education. Refer to page 27 for the schedule of events.
12. Compare plan benefits on-line.
Consumers can visit Medicare's website at www.medicare.gov and check out the "Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Finder." This tool will provide information on the specific drug plans available to Marylanders and a comparison of each plan's benefits.
13. Call for more information.
If you would like more information about Medicare prescription drug coverage or wish to verify that a drug plan is Medicare-approved, you can call Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE, the Maryland Department of Aging State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) at 410-767-1100 or 1-800-243-3425, or call the Baltimore County SHIP office at 410-887-2059. Visit the state web site at www.aging.maryland.gov or the Baltimore County Web site at www.baltimorecountymd.gov for more information.
14. Resist pressure tactics.
Choosing Medicare drug coverage is your decision. Take the time to make an informed decision that feels comfortable. If someone tries to pressure you into making an immediate decision, say, "No." Explain that you want time to review the information.
15. Protect yourself.
If at any point you feel endangered, such as by a salesman who refuses to leave your home or property, call your local police department, dial 911, immediately.
16. Report possible fraud.
The Maryland Department of Aging State Health Insurance Assistance Program/Senior Medicare Patrol Program provides education, assistance and advocacy to consumers to identify, report and prevent Medicare and Medicaid fraud, waste, abuse and error. Call the Baltimore County SHIP office at 410-887-2059 or the state office at 410-767-1100 or 1-800-243-3425 for more information or to report possible Medicare or Medicaid fraud.
**Information compiled by the Baltimore County Department of Aging
Misuse of Information
If you think someone is misusing your personal information, call:
- Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) (TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048)
- The Fraud Hotline of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office of the Inspector General at 1-800-447-8477
- Baltimore County Senior Medicare Patrol at 410-887-2059
- The Federal Trade Commission's ID Theft Hotline at 1-877-438-4338 (TTY users should call 1-866-653-4261).