Thursday, March 20, 2014

Be on the lookout for Medicare red flags

The Insurance Commissioner’s SHIBA program has received reports that some Washington Medicare subscribers are receiving calls from a person claiming they’re selling Medicare Supplement (Medigap) insurance. Medigap plans are sold by insurance companies and fill the gaps that Medicare parts A and B don’t cover, like copayments, coinsurance and deductibles.

The reports are that a solicitor is cold-calling consumers and setting up an appointment to come to consumers’ homes to talk about Medigap coverage and costs. When the solicitor schedules the appointment, they ask for personal information, including Social Security numbers and consumers’ home addresses. A company representative shows up for the appointment without any identification or proof they represent the insurance company; during the meeting they ask consumers for money to buy additional coverage.

Whenever a salesperson calls you unsolicited, you should proceed with caution. Consumers should never give personal information over the phone, including Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, or anything that could be used to defraud you or steal your identity.

It’s also a good idea for consumers to find out if an agent is licensed to sell insurance in our state before meeting with them or giving them money. Consumers can also call the Insurance Commissioner’s consumer advocates at 1-800-562-6900 to verify someone is licensed to sell insurance in Washington or to report suspected Medicare or insurance fraud.