MEDICARE: DEALING WITH SCAMMERSSep 29th, 2013 | By Sharon Shaw Elrod MSW EdD | Category: Social Security & Medicare
Obamacare Enrollment Begins
The Affordable Care Act (ACA), known on the streets as Obamacare, is about to start the enrollment process. That will begin this next Tuesday, October 1, and continue through March 31, 2014. Any citizen who wants to enroll may do so online or in a local organization that has Navigators available to help, or privately with a for-profit company that offers ACA approved plans. Navigators are people trained in the enrollment process, and they have no special interest in any specific ACA approved plan. They are just available to help the process along.
What senior citizens need to know is that, if you are satisfied with your current Medicare plan, you do not have to do anything. The only parts of Medicare that changed with passage of the ACA is better fraud protection, free annual wellness exams (began in 2011), free preventative care and screenings (long list) and the donut hole disappears over the next six years.
Scammers On The Prowl
Now that the facts are established, we turn to a current problem that was predictable. Scammers are out there trying to rip off vulnerable seniors who may be confused about the ACA and Medicare. SCJ offers some tips here about identifying possible scammers:
- Do not pay any attention to anyone calling on the telephone or knocking on your door who insists they can ‘enroll’ you in an ACA approved Medicare plan. You are already on Medicare, and you do not have to do anything to change your plan if you like it. The point here is you can change your plan if you want to, but you are not required to change anything.
- The trained ‘Navigator’ telephone number is 800-318-2596. Call that number if you have questions about someone trying to sell you something, or if you want to enroll or if you just want more information.
- Any legitimate website where you can be confident your information is secure and the site is legitimate will end in “.gov”. You can find a lot of helpful information at healthcare.gov.
- Don’t be rushed or frightened into signing anything. A scammer will push you. A legitimate helping person will give you time to think, to ask questions and to be sure you are ready to make a choice that works for you. The rates are pre-approved, so signing ‘now on the dotted line’ before the rates change is a scam.
- Guard your Social Security number and your medical history carefully. ID theft is alive and well. Be sure you know to whom you are speaking before you give out ANY personal information. If someone has initiated contact with you, do NOT give them any personal information until you are confident they are not out to scam you.
Be sure you check out information online (healthcare.gov) or by telephone (800-318-2596) if you are not in touch with a Navigator who can help you with the enrollment process. Obamacare is the law. You have a right to healthcare now. Finally.