Beware: Medicare-related junk mail

If you are turning 65 in the next four months, you are getting lots of mail from Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare supplement companies. Not all of this mail is junk, but some pieces have some questionable information in them.

Anne is turning 65 in June. She showed me some of the materials she has received in the mail. She asked me if she needed to respond to one particular card that said,

“Updates to the Medicare program could affect you. Many seniors may be faced with health care and prescription drug cost increases this year. Now more than ever, it’s important for you to understand how this update can impact your situation.”

Then the mailing offers “FREE Information” if you “return the card below“.

The free information is a government publication titled “Choosing a Medigap Plan”. In small print at the bottom of the card it says an agent will be contacting you “regarding this solicitation of insurance...”.

If you send in the card to get the free information, you are giving permission for someone to contact you, even if you are on the federal “Do Not Call List”.  You will get a call.

Or you might get a knock at your door.

Roger is turning 65 soon. It just so happens that Roger is an insurance agent working in the Medicare market. He showed me a letter he got from an independent insurance agent and said he had not responded to it. Yesterday he got a knock at his door.  It was the insurance agent who had sent him the letter!  Roger asked the agent what she was doing at his door, and she said she was following up on the letter she had sent him. Wow!

Apparently it is okay for insurance agents to do “door knocking” if they are selling Medicare supplements. But that agent should not talk about Medicare Advantage or Part D if she is allowed in the house.  Going to someone’s house uninvited is totally against Medicare rules when it comes to Medicare Advantage and Part D.

Roger is an independent insurance broker who follows all the Medicare rules. He would never show up at someone’s door uninvited, and he was shocked to have this agent turn up at his door. He wasn’t sure what he should do about it. Should he complain to Medicare?  When he told his story to a group of brokers, who also follow all the Medicare rules, none of us knew if he had grounds for a complaint.

For folks who are turning 65, Medicare choices are confusing enough on their own. When you throw in misleading mailings and unethical insurance agents, it makes for an even more complicated situation.  By the way, the insurance agents I know are ethical, and they would never show up at someone’s house uninvited.


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