Three Ways to Protect Yourself During Medicare and Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment
During Medicare annual open enrollment (Oct. 15, 2023 – Dec. 7, 2023) and Medicare Advantage open enrollment (Jan. 1, 2024 – March 31, 2024), you can expect to see plenty of advertisements promising the "latest and greatest" ways to save on your health plans and expenses if you'll just "call right now!"
While some choices may look promising, some offers really are "too good to be true."
The following three tips will help you navigate Medicare annual open enrollment and Medicare Advantage open enrollment, find a plan that works best for you, and spot misleading or fraudulent marketing.
1. Don't give into pressure
- There's no such thing as a "limited-time offer" or "special discount if you sign up right away" when it comes to these plans.
- You don't have to make a decision after a single phone call or website visit. Take your time.
- Don't hesitate to ask anyone calling you for their full name and contact information, company license information, or a copy of the plan.
- NOTE: Medicare and Social Security will never contact you by phone to offer a health plan.
- You don't need to provide your Social Security number, bank account, Medicare number, or credit card before you can see plan details or receive a quote for legitimate plans.
2. Do your research before you commit
- Read Medicare.gov's breakdown to learn more about what each part of Medicare covers and the difference between Medicare, Medicare Supplement insurance (Medigap), Medicare Advantage, and Medicaid.
- Check with your state department of insurance (DOI) to ask any questions or ensure an agent or company is licensed to provide plans in your state.
- You can also contact your State Health Insurance Assistance Program for help navigating your Medicare options. In some states, these are known as a SHIP program, but they may have a different name in other states.
- Keep in mind that not all the benefits you hear about on TV or see on the internet may be offered by every plan or even be available in your local area.
- Familiarize yourself with the rules those representing a Medicare health plan have to follow.
- Read the fine print of Medicare Advantage plans. When you hear something is "free" or "zero premium," you need to exercise caution. While some plans may have "zero co-pays," those could be limited to your primary care provider. If you see a lot of specialists, you may pay more out of pocket.
3. Follow basic cybersecurity practices online
- Beware of clicking on random internet ads or pop-ups.
- Know that some websites will change their colors or layout to look like a government site but aren't actually affiliated with the government.
- Use caution and avoid responding to unsolicited messages, texts, or emails.
- You can learn more about best practices here.
Contact your state's department of insurance if you need assistance or believe you have been misled.
About the National Association of Insurance Commissioners
As part of our state-based system of insurance regulation in the United States, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) provides expertise, data, and analysis for insurance commissioners to effectively regulate the industry and protect consumers. The U.S. standard-setting organization is governed by the chief insurance regulators from the 50 states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories. Through the NAIC, state insurance regulators establish standards and best practices, conduct peer reviews, and coordinate regulatory oversight. NAIC staff supports these efforts and represents the collective views of state regulators domestically and internationally.