Tips for Consumers: Medicare Prescription Drug Scams
Tips for Consumers
Medicare Prescription Drug Scams
Beginning January 1, 2006, everyone in the Baltimore area with Medicare, regardless of income or health status, will have access to prescription drug coverage. The enrollment period began November 15 and private companies that have been approved by Medicare to provide the benefits are now permitted to market their plans. Each company will follow Medicare guidelines, but they will differ in such aspects as the drugs they cover, the costs and where the drugs can be obtained.
This benefit, while exciting for seniors, is also creating an opportunity for scam artists. Crooks are calling seniors, masquerading as "approved" providers or government officials, and offering to sign them up over the telephone. Their goal is to wrest personal and financial information from seniors that they can use to steal their identities or bank account money.
Seniors and those who care for seniors need to know how to identify the legitimate approved Medicare Prescription Drug providers from the "pretenders." Here are some tips when evaluating the various plans:
Carefully review the Medicare & You 2006 handbook that has been mailed to every senior citizen. It explains in detail what prescription drug coverage means and which plans are available in your area.
Legitimate providers are not allowed to market the drug plans door-to-door or via unsolicited e-mails. They are permitted to contact consumers by mail or phone, but they must observe do-not-call laws and registries. They should be happy to send you information about their plans in the mail, and wait to obtain personal and financial information after you decide to enroll.
Once you have received their plan details, verify their legitimacy by calling the Medicare toll-free phone number, 1-800-MEDICARE, open 24 hours a day.
Because much of this information is new and may seem confusing, don't forget that local experts can also provide help. Your own pharmacist is a good source as well as the folks at an area senior center.
Additional information about the new Medicare prescription drug coverage is available at www.medicare.gov
Always contact the BBB to check out legitimate businesses. Visit their web site, www.baltimore.bbb.org or give them a call 24 hours a day at 410-347-3992. If you have a complaint, use the web site or write them at: BBB, 1414 Key Highway, #100, Baltimore, MD 21230. Their office serves Hagerstown and all of Washington County.