MO group warns of con-artists during Medicare sign ups - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

MO group warns of con-artists during Medicare sign ups

JEFFERSON CITY, MO (KFVS) -

Missouri's top insurance regulator is asking seniors, health care providers and others using Medicare to be on the lookout for dishonest insurance agents during the upcoming Medicare open enrollment period.

Open enrollment in Missouri runs from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, 2011.

Missouri Insurance Director John M. Huff and other officials have signed a letter to home health workers in the state asking them to report insurance agents and other salespeople who violate Medicare solicitation rules.

"The vast majority of licensed insurance agents in Missouri are honest and have their customers' best interests at heart," said Huff. "But as with any industry, there are bad actors seeking to take advantage of Missouri seniors. We must do all we can to prevent that, and we need the public's help."

The letter, sent to companies that provide in-home health services to Missourians', also provides a list of acceptable and forbidden sales practices for agents selling Medicare.

Under the rules, agents cannot:

-Claim to represent or be endorsed by Medicare

-Solicit door-to-door

-Solicit using unwanted emails, text messages or voice mails

-Approach people in common areas like parking lots, hallways and sidewalks

-Pitch products in health care settings like hospital waiting areas, exam rooms, patient rooms and pharmacy counters

-Set up an appointment to discuss Medicare, then sell unrelated products like life insurance or annuities

Generally, agents can only discuss Medicare products during appointments arranged with the permission of the consumer, according to the group.

 Consumers should never release personal information, such as bank, credit card or Social Security numbers to anyone who contacts them by phone or email.

Huff says consumers should take advantage of the CLAIM program, a free service funded by the Department of Insurance and Medicare, which provides expert one-on-one counseling for Missourians with Medicare and their loved ones.

Consumers can call 800-390-3330 or visit missouriclaim.org.

Copyright 2011 KFVS. All rights reserved.

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