Friday, November 4 , 2016
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In This Issue
 
Fraud in the News
The following are current news articles about health care and fraud issues.

Health Care Fraud:


Consumer Fraud:



Please share this Fraud Alert with colleagues, consumers, or other professionals in your area. If you have any questions about the Illinois SMP program, or to receive these Fraud Alerts directly, please contact Jason Echols, Healthcare Consumer Protection Coordinator at AgeOptions.
 
This project was supported, in part by grant number 90MP0216, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects under government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official Administration for Community Living policy. 
  

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Dear SMP Readers, 

 

In this week's Fraud Alert, we have a reminder to compare your 2017 Medicare coverage, a warning about inappropriate insurance marketing and a skit that highlights scams targeting veterans.

 

Read more in this week's Fraud Alert!

 
The Choice is Yours: What Medicare Coverage Do You Want in 2017?

We are in the middle of a season when Americans must make a choice. No, I'm not talking about the elections! I'm talking about Medicare's Annual Open Enrollment Period (October 15 - December 7)!

Now is the time to review and decide what coverage you want for 2017. During open enrollment, Medicare beneficiaries can decide to join a Medicare Advantage plan or to return to Original Medicare. Beneficiaries can also compare the cost of their current Part D prescription drug plan with the cost of other plans in 2017. The stakes are potentially high. Plans can change their coverage rules so that a drug you take may be covered in 2016 (i.e., on your plan's drug formulary) and not be covered in 2017. Comparing plans may save you a lot of money.

This can be a confusing time, but fortunately there are free, impartial services to help you compare your options and make an informed choice. Medicare.gov has a Plan Finder tool or you can find a local SHIP counselor who can help you compare plans (contact your area agency on aging which you can find at www.eldercare.gov).

During open enrollment, insurance agents might try to sell you a plan. Medicare has strict rules for how agents and insurance companies may market their plans. Most agents follow these rules, but some do not. Agents should not lie about the benefits of their plan in order to sell it to you, so if you are meeting with an insurance agent, you can use the Illinois SMP's Ask the Right Questions form to ensure you know what your plan will cost and what it will cover. 

The Illinois SMP has received reports of agents contacting beneficiaries without their permission and pressuring them to sign up for their plan. This is not allowed. If anyone "cold calls" you or comes to your door without an appointment, you can hang up or refuse entry.  Never let an agent pressure you into taking a plan. Remember that you have options and can always compare their plan with others available in your area.

If you experience or witness any of these inappropriate marketing tactics by insurance companies or agents, report it to the Illinois SMP at AgeOptions at (800)699-9043.

For more information on Medicare's Open Enrollment and your options during this time, read the Illinois SMP's article Medicare Open Enrollment and Marketing Fraud: Making a Choice that is Right for You
 
Scams Targeting Veterans

Next Friday, November 11 is Veterans Day, a special day to recognize the contributions and sacrifices of veterans to and for our country. While we thank and honor our veterans, we unfortunately are reminded that scammers often target veterans in particular. A scammer may call claiming that because of your service you qualify for a cash payment and all they need is your social security number. This is a scam. Read about more scams targeting veterans in this Federal Trade Commission blog post

The California SMP at California Health Advocates recently filmed a special skit video to showcase a scam that targets veterans. As the video suggests, if you or a loved one is a veteran, please contact your local Veterans Administration to find out about legitimate services and benefits you may qualify for. 

Thank you California Health Advocates for sharing this video and thank you to all veterans for your service!

Stop Veterans Scams Skit (California SMP)
Stop Veterans Scams Skit (California SMP)

AgeOptions Ideogram

 

Jason B. Echols, MSW,
Health Care Consumer Protection Coordinator
AgeOptions
1048 Lake Street, Suite 300
Oak Park, IL 60301
phone (708)383-0258 fax (708)524-0870
jason.echols@ageoptions.org

ageoptions.org

 

AgeOptions, the Area Agency on Aging of Suburban Cook County, is committed to improving the quality of life and maintaining the dignity of older adults and those who care about them - through leadership and support, community partnerships, comprehensive services, accurate information and powerful advocacy.

Fraud Alerts contain information about current scams taking place in Illinois, announcements and updates about programs or services related to health care and/or fraud protection, and links to news articles about health care and fraud topics. Please forward any recommendations or announcements that you would like to be included in a future Fraud Alert to jason.echols@ageoptions.org.