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Enrollment open for Medicare plans

Senior Medicare Patrol of Texas—

It’s that time of year again. Open enrollment for Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage plans started Oct. 15 and runs through Dec. 7.

It is so important to review Medicare Part D plans and Medicare Advantage plans (for those who have one) every year.  Plans change and residents who want to make sure prescriptions and doctors (for Advantage Plans) are still in network.

The changes that can be made during Medicare’s Open Enrollment include:

  • Joining a new Medicare Advantage Plan or Part D prescription drug plan;
  • Switching from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan;
  • Switching from a Medicare Advantage Plan to Original Medicare (with or without a Part D plan)

Residents should always shop for a new drug plan each year to ensure they are getting the best coverage for the best price to suit their needs.  Shop and compare plans at www.medicare.gov. Get a family member use the Internet or call the State Health Insurance Assistance Program at 800-252-9240 and speak to a qualified benefits counselor.

Medicare Part D enrollment scams

  • Medicare or a health plan calls and wants to send a new health card for $299.
  • A call is received about a refund from last year’s premiums or drug plan cost.
  • An agent tries to sign you up for plan that you don’t need, isn’t right for you, or doesn’t even exist.
  • Watch out for fake RX cards offering big discounts with little or no benefits.
  • You receive a call offering big discounts on a new health insurance plan.

 

Agent/broker prohibited behaviors 

  • Agents may not state they are from Medicare or use the term “Medicare” in a misleading manner.
  • Cannot solicit potential enrollees door-to-door (in person or via leaflet/flyer).
  • Cannot approach beneficiaries in common areas (i.e. parking lots, hallways, lobbies, sidewalks).
  • Agents cannot send unsolicited text messages and leave voicemail messages. However, agents may call or visit beneficiaries who attended a marketing or sales event when prior permission is given and documented.
  • Cannot ask beneficiaries for a referral list (list of friends or family who may be interested in plan).
  • Calls to prospective enrollees to confirm receipt of mailed information.
  • To learn more: contact the Texas SMP.

 

 Tips on how to stop fraud

  • Medicare will never call or visit. Medicare will only send information via postal mail service.
  • Guard your Medicare card and number like a credit card.
  • Don’t give out your Medicare number except to your doctor or other providers.
  • Don’t let someone push you into making a fast decision.
  • If you receive a call, especially from a number you do not recognize or anyone requesting personal information hang up immediately.
  • Know your health care options.  Get help from your family, the Medicare website or your local State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP).
  • No health care plan is allowed to cold call.

If you have any questions or want to report a scam please. doesn’t hesitate to call the Senior Medicare Patrol at 713-341-6184 or 888-341-6187.

 

The Senior Medicare Patrol of Texas (SMP) is part of the national Senior Medicare Patrol Program funded by the Administration for Community Living. The Houston Better Business Bureau Education Foundation is the holder of the grant for the State of Texas. 

 

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