Commissioner Causey urges families to take action before Medicare open enrollment ends

Published 4:02 pm Friday, November 20, 2020

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Avoid scams when changing Medicare supplement plans

RALEIGH — North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey encourages families to talk to their Medicare-aged loved ones about getting solid, reliable information about the best health and prescription plan before open enrollment ends Dec. 7. This is a very important time for beneficiaries to decide on a suitable plan so they have the proper coverage beginning Jan. 1, 2021.

“Holidays are the perfect time for families to discuss important life issues” said Commissioner Causey. “There is a lot of confusing information about Medicare health and prescription plans, so I encourage people to call us so we can help beneficiaries get the perfect plan to suit their needs.”

Since Medicare plans change each year, subscribers should review their current policy, research options and plans to determine if there are cost-saving benefits to changing plans.

Changes that can be made during open enrollment include the following:

• Changes to Part D (prescription drug coverage)
• Changes to Part C (Medicare health plan)
There is no annual Open Enrollment Period for a Medicare supplemental plan. Consumers can apply to change this coverage at any time if companies allow.

If Medicare beneficiaries need help to decide what health or prescription drug plan is best for them, they can contact the Seniors’ Health Insurance Information Program or SHIIP. SHIIP is a division within the N.C. Dept. of Insurance that is dedicated to assisting seniors with their Medicare plan free-of-charge. Medicare experts are available to help people decide on a health or prescription drug plan or compare their current one to see if it still fits their medical profile.

“I am also concerned about the fraudulent activity surrounding Medicare during open enrollment,” Causey added. “Be suspicious of telephone calls, solicitations and even some commercials.”

Since Medicare Open Enrollment began Oct. 15, the N.C. Department of Insurance has learned that people are going door-to-door pretending to be from the Department offering free insurance with extra benefits for vision, dental and life insurance. During the visit, the impersonator asks to see the resident’s current health insurance policy and other personal information such as their Social Security number, bank account and other sensitive information.

If residents feel they are a victim of a scam, Commissioner Causey urges residents to contact their bank and have a security notification put on their account. Residents will then be notified if anyone attempts to make withdrawals or if new accounts are created using their Social Security number.

To contact SHIIP for assistance in choosing or comparing a Medicare health or prescription drug plan or to report suspected fraudulent activity, call NCDOI at 1-855-408-1212.

The Seniors’ Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) is a free N.C. Department of Insurance health benefits counseling service for Medicare beneficiaries and their families or caregivers. SHIIP’s mission is to educate, advocate, counsel and empower people to make informed decisions about Medicare or their prescription drug plan. SHIIP counselors are not licensed insurance agents, and they do not sell or endorse any product, plan, or company. If you have questions about your specific plan, we encourage you to contact your insurance agent or the insurance company.