Advice for Seniors During Medicare Open Enrollment

Seniors who would like to review and possibly change their Medicare health and prescription drug coverage for 2015 can now do so until Dec. 7, 2014 when the Medicare Open Enrollment period closes.

 

Medicare coverage options and costs change annually, so enrollees are encouraged to review their options. However, seniors who are happy with the coverage they have now do not need to do anything during the Medicare Open Enrollment period.

 

Open enrollment selections can be made at Medicare.gov by December 7, 2014. If you enroll in or make changes to your plan during the annual open enrollment period, your new coverage begins Jan. 1, 2015. You should continue to pay premiums for your old coverage through Dec. 31, 2014

Picking a Medicare plan can be confusing; and to help seniors, the Nevada Division of Insurance has the following advice to help seniors avoid fraud and pick the best plan that matches their needs.

Help making your decision

The State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) provides information, counseling and assistance to Medicare Beneficiaries in Nevada through a statewide network of volunteers. SHIP Volunteers offer free one-on-one assistance and counseling about problems seniors encounter regarding Medicare, supplemental health insurance and long-term care.

SHIP can be contacted statewide at (800) 307-4444 or in Las Vegas at (702) 486-3478. Northern Nevada SHIP can be reached at (877) 385-2345. Information is also available on the web at http://www.nvaging.net/ship/ship_main.htm.

Know your rights

State and federal rules are in place to protect consumers against abuses in the marketing and sales of Medicare prescription drug plans and Medicare Advantage plans. Individuals who contact you about any type of private Medicare coverage:

  • Must be licensed by the state. Check with Nevada’s Division of Insurance to make sure the salesperson is licensed as an agent at doi.nv.gov/licensing-search/  or by calling the Division at (888) 872-3234.
  • May not make unsolicited contact such as door-to-door sales, cold calls or approaching you in a parking lot.
  • Must have made an appointment before coming to your home.
  • Must arrange in advance the type of products that will be discussed during a scheduled sales appointment. At the appointment, the salesperson may only try to sell you the types of insurance agreed upon by you in advance.
  • May not try to sell you non-health care related products (like a life insurance policy or an annuity) during a sales or marketing presentation of a Medicare prescription drug or Medicare Advantage plan.
  • May not attempt to sell you a plan in a doctor’s office, pharmacy or at an educational event.
  • May not offer you free meals at promotional or sales events.
  • May not offer you gifts or other promotional items whose value is in excess of $15.

Beware Medicare Fraud

To protect yourself from scam artists intent on taking advantage you, here are some additional tips to avoid becoming a victim:

  • Beware of door-to-door sales people. Remember, agents cannot solicit business at your home without an appointment. Do not allow uninvited agents into your home.
  • Do not give out personal information, such as Social Security numbers, bank account numbers or credit card numbers to anyone you have not verified as a licensed agent.People are not allowed to request such personal information in their marketing activities and cannot ask for payment over the internet. They must send you a bill. Once you decide to purchase a plan and have verified that the agent is licensed, you may give the agent personal information to assist in enrollment and billing.
  • Verify that the plan you have chosen is an approved Medicare plan. All of the approved plans are available at Medicare.gov or by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

Comments

  1. Michael Stilley says:

    Advice when you are choosing a medical plan. If you choose a Medicare Advantage HMO, be advised that the local hospital (Mesa View Regional Hospital) will not accept an HMO plan. Case in point: My wife has a Medicare Supplemental plan. She required minor (outpatient) surgery, Her doctor was approved and hospital costs were covered. I had a recommended surgery for a foot problem from the same Doctor. But, because I had an HMO plan, I was not covered at Mesa View. I guess if you have coverage that tries to maintain your health, Mesa View does not want you as a patient. Guess they don’t make enough money to warrant approving your problem. Just a warning to let you know that you can’t get medical services at our local “regional” hospital if you don’t have accepted coverage. You will need to drive to St. George (80 mile+ round trip) or Las Vegas (180 mile+ round trip) if you need medical treatment. Choose carefully and be prepared to spend large amounts for Medical Insurance if you want to utilize Mesquite’s local hospital.

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