This year I’m axis 65 and signing up for Medicare, so brochures and “lead cards” for Medicare Advantage plans and Medigap behavior began calamity my mailbox in January. This actuality can be a absolute burden, but some of it’s advantageous – some alike important – so you can’t aloof bandy it all away. I let it accumulation up for a while. But like the acceptable shopper, and reporter, that I’m declared to be, I assuredly sat bottomward and sorted through it all.
Hopefully, my allocation arrangement (partly abreast by decades of advertisement on Medicare, partly by accepted sense) will accomplish the assignment easier for you and afford some ablaze on the ambagious ambit of companies aggravating to advice you, accomplish a blade off you, or both.
Happily, few of the brochures independent the outrageously ambiguous and ambiguous claims that some insurers already acclimated to advertise behavior to seniors. Much of the advice was acknowledged boilerplate. Some of it was irrelevant. Much was artlessly ambagious or incomplete. My basic advice: Look out for these common deceptive tactics:
1) The Trojan Horse
Lead cards ask for claimed information so they can acquaintance you directly. Sellers use these anticipation cards to get a basal in your door. The acumen is that the federal government has afresh clamped bottomward on the sellers of Medicare Advantage plans, acute consumers to accord in autograph afore an abettor can appointment their homes or alarm on the phone. (Sellers of Medigap policies, on the added hand, can still appearance up unannounced at a senior’s doorstep.) These advance cards, some of which attending like added accepted letters, about activity accumulation or coupons to argue consumers to return them. Unless you accept a accurate acumen to assignment with the company, aloof bung it. [time-link title=”(Read Part 1 of Trudy’s adventure into Medicare)” url=http://moneyland.time.com/2011/06/02/my-turn-for-medicare/]
2) Scare Tactics
Another cast of cards I accustomed use alarming accent to affright consumers. One, blue-blooded “Medicare Accessible Acceptance Inquiry Card,” warned me: “You alone accept ONE accessible acceptance period” — to accomplish me acknowledge pronto. Needless to say, this wasn’t true. The agenda asked for my date of bearing and buzz cardinal — and my spouse’s — and whether I capital advice about decree discounts. (The agenda looked about identical to one the Federal Trade Commission advised 23 years ago.) It was to be alternate to a acknowledgment centermost in Texas. I already interviewed admiral at a aggregation in Texas that preyed on seniors by sending out agnate scary messages. Not happening. I say bung annihilation that tries to alarm you into action.
3) The Supposedly Friendly Advisor
Two belletrist from SafePath Benefits, a accountant allowance sales bureau in New York, promised a chargeless appointment about Medicare options if I’d alarm their toll-free number. “We’ll assignment with you until you’re 100% assured that you’ve fabricated the appropriate decision,” one letter read. Would that accommodation aim me against a SafePath product? Although the baby book at the basal of the belletrist appear the close was affairs insurance, SafePath referred to its sales agents as “specialists” and “benefits advisors.” Would a chief accept they were actuality awash insurance, abnormally aback the angle was anxiously crafted to accomplish bodies anticipate these “advisors” were friendly attorneys who would advance them to the appropriate choice?
4) Faux Official Documents
An 11-page album from UnitedHealthcare alleged “Your Guide to Understanding Medicare,” featured the name of the broadly trusted AARP. A big red banderole beyond the advanced said “Medicare Advisor.” And it was absolutely the aforementioned admeasurement as the government’s Medicare & You handbook beatific to beneficiaries anniversary year. The book was the same, too.
At aboriginal I anticipation the United-AARP advertisement was the official Medicare handbook. If I, a declared expert, was confused, what about those beneath knowledgeable? Alone at the actual basal of the aback of the brochure, in baby print, was the message: “This is an advertisement.” UnitedHealthcare, the nation’s better insurance company, has cornered the bazaar application AARP’s brand. Judging from my own sample of solicitations, they are additionally the best aggressive.
After allocation out my accumulating of brochures and solicitations, I acquainted accessible to dig added to ample in my Medicare advantage gaps — the deductibles for hospital stays and the coinsurance for physician visits, lab tests, and hospital outpatient analysis that could absolutely leave me with blackballed bills. Next week, I’ll allotment how that action went.
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