Medicare Part D Enrollment is Active, Attorney General Warns of Possible Scams
PIERRE, S.D. – November 15th marked the beginning of a new enrollment period for Medicare beneficiaries into one of the private plans providing prescription drug coverage under Medicare Part D. Attorney General Larry Long is warning South Dakota seniors to take the necessary steps in selecting a legitimate plan and to expect an increase in unscrupulous telemarketing calls.
The Consumer Protection Division has received complaints about telemarketers claiming to be Medicare representatives in an attempt to gain personal identifying information such as social security and bank account numbers. Other complaints have included high pressure sales and attempts to switch plans. Here are a few tips to help protect yourself:
- Signing up for a plan is free, so don’t let anyone charge you an application fee.
- You won’t lose your other Medicare benefits if you choose not to join a Part D plan: If anyone tries to tell you otherwise, they’re wrong.
- Never give out private financial information over the telephone unless you have initiated the call.
- The authorized drug plans are prohibited from selling products door-to-door or sending unsolicited emails.
- The authorized drug plans are also required to adhere to the federal Do-Not-Call registry and to honor consumers’ verbal requests to stop calling.
- Plans are not required to offer the same types of drugs. If a person needs a particular type of prescription drug, it is important to compare his or her needs against the list of drugs approved by the plans that person is considering.
- If a plan sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Make sure that the plan is approved by Medicare and that it will cover the drugs and any other benefits that you need. You can do so by calling 1-800-MEDICARE or go to http://www.medicare.gov/Default.aspx.
- If you like your current plan, it is not necessary to make changes. Just be cautious of telemarketing calls that might indicate a need for updated information. This may be an attempt to switch your current plan to another one.
The new Medicare prescription option will take effect January 1, 2007. As advised by Medicare, if you are going to make a change to your current prescription coverage, enrolling by December 8th helps ensure that you can get the prescriptions you need on January 1st.
If you believe you have been a victim of a scam contact the Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-300-1986 or firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have questions regarding the enrollment process or with Medicare in general contact SHIINE at 1-800-536-8197 or the Medicare Assistant Programs at 1-800-695-8168 (West River) and 1-800-822-8804 (East River).