During Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, you will likely experience more marketing from private Medicare plans, like Medicare Advantage Plans and Part D plans. Companies try to reach consumers in various ways, like television commercials, radio ads, events, mailings, phone calls, and texts. The government has rules, though, to protect you from forceful or misleading marketing. Knowing the rules and red flags can help you make the best choices for yourself during Open Enrollment.
First, let’s look at the marketing rules that these private Medicare health and drug plans must follow.
Remember, these companies are not the government. They just have permission from the government to sell their private Medicare plans to you.
The government says that plans and their representatives cannot:
On the other hand, plans and representatives must:
Even if you don’t remember all these specific marketing guidelines, it’s good to remember some of the red flags to watch out for.
Instead, rely on government websites, phone numbers, and offices for information. Your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) is government-funded. You can contact them to understand how plans can and cannot market their products to you. Use our online SHIP Locator or call 877-839-2675 (and say “Medicare” when prompted) to find your local SHIP.
Remember that you should take your time making enrollment decisions. If you feel uncertain or at all rushed, you can tell the plan representative that you need time to think on it and will follow up with them later if you’re interested. Before you sign up for a plan, contact a plan directly to learn about the services it covers and get everything in writing.
If you think you have experienced marketing violations, you should report them.
Keep any documented proof, such as an agent’s business card, marketing materials, emails, or phone call records. You can report marketing violations to 1-800-MEDICARE or to your local State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). Your local SHIP can help you review the incident, report it to the correct authorities, and continue spotting such red flags. Use our online SHIP Locator or call 877-839-2675 (and say “Medicare” when prompted) to find your local SHIP.
Finally, protect yourself from unwanted enrollments or identity theft.
No one should ask for your Medicare number, Social Security number, or bank information just to provide you with information. Someone can use your personal information to enroll you in a plan without your permission or to steal your personal information. Remember that plans cannot even request this personal information at an educational event. If you have been enrolled in a plan without your knowledge or because of misleading marketing, you may be able to make changes to your coverage outside of the Open Enrollment Period. Call your local SHIP to see if you qualify and for help making the change. Use our online SHIP Locator or call 877-839-2675 (and say “Medicare” when prompted) to find your local SHIP.
Still have questions?
Your SHIP is here for you! You can contact your SHIP for any other Medicare-related questions or concerns you have. SHIP counselors are government funded to provide trusted, unbiased Medicare counseling at no cost to you. (Depending on your state, your SHIP may go by another name.) Use our online SHIP Locator or call 877-839-2675 (and say “Medicare” when prompted) to find your local SHIP.
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