January 09, 2006
Examples of unscrupulous practices include using high-pressure tactics to persuade consumers to purchase a plan they do not need or cannot afford and mixing products other than Medicare prescription drug plans in the insurance package. There are also criminals who sell "plans" that do not exist, taking consumers money and leaving them uninsured or under insured with plans that do not meet federal and state requirements.
Under the federal government's new Medicare Prescription Drug coverage benefit for Medicare beneficiaries, private insurance companies are selling these new Medicare PDPs. Medicare must approve the plans before they can be marketed legally.
Enrollment for the program, which began on January 1, is underway. Insurance agents are selling this product to Medicare beneficiaries.
"There are millions of people on Medicare eligible for the program and there will be a lot of sales activity between now and May 15, which is the end of the open enrollment period," said Hall. "We are concerned that scam artists will try to steal from consumers' by providing non-existent, inappropriate, or inadequate coverage."
Hall stated that while there have not yet been reports of scam artists marketing in Alaska, there are many who are operating in the Lower 48, and it is only a matter of time until they begin to operate here. The warning is a proactive step to warn consumers of the risk before someone becomes a victim.
Hall provided some tips to avoid becoming the victim of a scam artist:
"To avoid being a victim
of a scam, consumers should verify that the plan they are purchasing
is a legitimate one that meets their needs," Hall stressed.
"Alaskans shouldn't wait until they discover that they are
not insured, or under insured, and have to spend a lot of time
and money to fix their problem."
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