Watch Out for Deceptive Sales Practices During Medicare’s Open Enrollment

Watch Out for Deceptive Sales Practices During Medicare’s Open Enrollment

Our California Senior Medicare Patrol and the Department of Insurance are alerting seniors and advocates to beware of improper sales practices during Medicare’s annual open enrollment period for Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug plans. The open enrollment period, officially referred to as the Annual Election Period, is from October 15 through December 7 each year. To protect yourself or someone you love from being a victim, please report questionable sales practices to our California Senior Medicare Patrol and keep these tips from the California Dept of Insurance in mind:

  • Medicare has no official sales representatives: Don’t believe a salesperson who claims to be a Medicare representative. Medicare does not send “representatives” to solicit your business.
  • Unsolicited sales calls are prohibited: Federal regulations prohibit unsolicited telephone calls, door-to-door visits, emails and other forms of sales without your permission.
  • Guard your personal information: Never give out personal information such as your Social Security number, bank account numbers, or credit card information over the telephone. Verify that the person you are dealing with has proper authority to act on behalf of the plan before you provide your Medicare number. Keep a record of who you speak with and the information that you provide to that person.
  • Beware of cross-selling: Cross-selling occurs when a salesperson approaches you for one purpose but then tries to sell you something else. This could lead to an unplanned purchase of a product that may not be in your best interest.
  • Take your time: Don’t feel pressured to make a quick decision. Be sure that you understand the details of a plan before you enroll. Verify copayment amounts and whether your medical providers participate in the plan that you are considering.
  • You don’t have to make a change: If you are satisfied that your current plan will meet your needs for the coming year, you don’t need to change plans. Confirm the details of your current plan before making a switch.

Bring deceptive practices to our attention:

Our SMP and the California Department of Insurance want to know about suspected deceptive sales practices so we can stop them. We are here to help you. If you think that you have experienced deceptive conduct, or if you have any questions or concerns, contact our Senior Medicare Patrol at 855-613-7080. You can also reach the Department of Insurance at 1-800-927-HELP(4357). Also, see our Medicare Fraud section for additional information.

This article was edited from a senior alert (pdf) from the California Department of Insurance.

Our blogger Karen J. Fletcher is CHA's publications consultant. She provides technical expertise, writing and research on Medicare, health disparities and other health care issues. With a Masters in Public Health from UC Berkeley, she serves in health advocacy as a trainer and consultant. See her current articles.