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Joint Effort to Warn Consumers about Medicare Related Scams

Attorney General Larry Long, The Medicare Assistance Program of South Dakota, SHIINE and the Division of Insurance are Warning Consumers about Medicare Related Scams

PIERRE, S.D. - On October 1, 2005, sponsors of Medicare-approved prescription drug plans began marketing their products directly to Medicare-eligible individuals.

In addition to the number of people who will soon begin aggressively marketing their prescription drug plans according to Medicare’s requirements, we are concerned that some people will seize the opportunity to sell unnecessary products, and use the opportunity to gather consumers’ personal information and gain access to their financial resources.

The following are tips to assist consumers in protecting their personal information, as the marketing of Medicare-approved prescription drug plans begins:

  • 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 or credit card numbers, to prescription drug plan representatives. Do not feel pressured to make an immediate decision and take time to review the information.  
  • Plans cannot begin enrolling consumers until November 15, 2005.  
  • Medicare prescription drug plans will have the "Medicare RX" seal on their materials.  
  • Door-to-door sales of the Medicare prescription drug plan are not allowed.  
  • Plan enrollment is available over the internet, but online payments are not allowed.  
  • Telemarketers must follow the telemarketing sales rule and call only between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. These telemarketers can tell you about the plan, but cannot enroll you or ask you to pay for the plan over the phone.   
  • To avoid all telemarketing calls, including those from Medicare’s prescription drug plans, register with the federal "DO NOT CALL" list at 1-888-382-1222, or go to http://www.donotcall.gov.  
  • Pharmacists, physicians and other health care providers cannot steer beneficiaries to a plan that furthers their own financial interest.  
  • Medicare does not recommend one plan over another.  
  • Detailed information about the Medicare drug plan and the plans available for South Dakotans will be available in mid-October when the "Medicare & You 2006" handbook is mailed to consumers.  
  • Beginning in mid-October 2005, consumers can visit Medicare’s Web site http://www.medicare.gov/Default.aspx and check out their "Prescription Drug Plan Finder" tool, which will provide information on the specific drug plans available to South Dakotans.

The Medicare Assistance Program (MAP) of South Dakota is the local Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) Project in South Dakota. The program is funded by the Administration on Aging to educate people on Medicare about Medicare & Medicaid Fraud. SHIINE, Senior Health Information and Insurance Education, is a federally-funded program managed by the Center for Active Generations under contract with the Department of Social Services, Adult Services & Aging. 

For more information about the new Medicare prescription drug coverage or to verify that a drug plan is Medicare-Approved, call Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or the South Dakota SHIINE Program at 1-800-536-8197. If you have questions or problems with a discount plan you can contact the Division of Insurance at 1-605-773-3563. The Division of Insurance maintains a list of registered discount plans. For more information on ways to protect yourself or to report possible Medicare fraud, call the South Dakota Medicare Assistance Program at 1-800-822-8804 or 1-800-695-8168. 

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