A blog about Medicare. What you and your employees need to know
Endless Medicare Ads, Phone Calls, and Mail… OH MY!
Author: Lora Drummond
Medicare Transition Specialist
Medicare Ads, Phone Calls, and Mail… OH MY!
As if the volume of solicitations you are receiving for a political election year were not enough, Medicare ads are inundating TV, phones, and mail too! These ads are primarily targeting beneficiaries who are already enrolled in a Medicare plan.
Why? Because every year, Medicare beneficiaries can change their Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare Part D (drug) plans.
Why? Because premiums, doctors, coverage benefits, and drug formularies can change annually for those types of Medicare plans.
Why? The opportunity to change. Insurance companies are advertising heavily to get beneficiaries to switch plans, without viable reason to change. They are just selling plans.
With a high volume of information going out through various media streams, advertising can undoubtedly confuse people with what they need to do, and IF they need to do anything at all. Employees enrolled in Medicare need to be cautious in responding to any solicitations they receive.
In case an employee or someone you know feels pressured to doing something based on these numerous outreaches, we wanted you to understand why an increase in Medicare marketing occurs at this time of year so you can confidently direct your employees for guidance.
Real problems that these marketing tactics can cause:
- Ads can be misleading. Some people will feel pressured by the phone calls they receive. We receive panicky calls every year by clients who said their insurance company called them to make changes to their plans, and did they make a mistake changing? Very often, the answer is “yes,” and often, it was not even the insurance company calling them, but a random agent trying to ‘switch’ plans on them when it was not necessary.
- Insurance company initiated calls. Insurance company agents call beneficiaries to sell them a different Medicare plan with the same insurance company. The agent will push the ‘freebies’ to entice the switch. Later the member tries to use the new plan and find out their doctor is not in the network, and their prescriptions cost more.
- Advertising enticing freebies. Beneficiaries are enticed to change plans entirely on their own based on the benefits they hear on TV they can get for free. Again, they switch to a plan to get the promised benefits, but then their doctor is not in-network, and drugs are either not covered or cost more.
- Insurance agents do not know a beneficiary personally. Agents use call lists to contact Medicare members and don’t actually have any information on their coverage.
- Random Insurance agent calls. Agents pretend to represent the insurance company the member is enrolled in and convinces them to change to another plan.
- Freebies. Freebies sound good but not when your max out of pocket and other costs increase to cover the freebies.
A Certified Medicare Planner® will explain all plan differences and options and let beneficiaries make educated decisions rather than trying to sell them something!
What should Medicare beneficiaries do with these calls and ads:
In most cases, do NOTHING!
- If an employee is already a Medicare client of ours, any response to those ads or calls is unnecessary. We look after our clients every year, proactively reviewing their plans, doctors, and drug utilization to ensure their coverage meets their needs for the coming year. If any changes could impact them, we contact them to meet with our Certified Medicare Planners® to discuss changes and confirm opportunities. We create partnerships so they know we are looking out for them. Those ads they are receiving can go in the trash. The phone calls also can be ignored.
- If a Medicare beneficiary needs guidance or is concerned about any communications they are receiving, we suggest contacting a Certified Medicare Planner® before committing to ANY changes to their current plans.
- Medicare beneficiaries are not required to make any changes during the Annual Election Period unless their plan is not going to be offered in 2021.
Changing plans might make sense:
- When plan premiums increase or when their current Medicare Advantage plan won’t be available for coverage next year
- When a beneficiary’s primary care doctor is leaving their Medicare plan network
- When prescription costs will be going up or when a plan will no longer cover a particular medication.
- When a Certified Medicare Planner®, they consult and trust guides them on why a change makes sense for them.
A Necessary Caution about calls– Medicare does not call members:
Unfortunately, the Annual Election Period is a time that is ripe for scammers. We receive calls from concerned people stating that Medicare or Social Security called them, asking about either enrolling them in a plan or asking to confirm what plans they are enrolled in or if they received their Medicare Card, and what the number is. The caller sounds legitimate, or sometimes so pushy they suggest the individual is in trouble if they don’t respond with the information requested, like social security number, credit card, or bank info.
**Medicare does NOT make these types of calls **
Anyone who calls purporting to be from Medicare and asking an individual to verify any personal information over the phone is likely a scammer.
The individual has the right to:
- Hang up.
- Not to confirm or give out any information.
- Call Medicare to confirm the call was from them.
- Contact one of our Certified Medicare Planners® for help.
Guiding your employee to reserve personal information with only people known to them and who have their permission to share with is sound advice. Individuals control the calls in these cases and should not use any phone numbers the caller provides to support the reason for the call. The use of only published contact information on actual government websites or based on calls the employee initiates to a trusted resource to help are safer options.
If you receive an inquiry from an employee who needs guidance on anything they have received that they didn’t request, please contact a Certified Medicare Planner® from our office. We can help. Our services are always at no charge, but our guidance is priceless.
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