October 2023: Protecting Yourself from Marketing Violations
During Fall Open Enrollment, you will likely experience more marketing from private Medicare plans, like Medicare Advantage Plans and Part D plans. Companies try to reach consumers in various ways, like television commercials, radio ads, events, mailings, phone calls, and texts. There are rules, though, to protect you from forceful or misleading marketing. Knowing the rules and red flags can help you make the best choices for yourself during Fall Open Enrollment.
Watch Out for People Who:
- Ask for your Medicare number, Social Security number, or bank information, especially before you decide to enroll. Someone can use this information to enroll you in a plan without your permission.
- Say they represent Medicare. Plans are never allowed to suggest they represent or are endorsed by Medicare or any other government agency. They cannot use the Medicare name or logo on their marketing materials.
- Threaten you with the loss of your Medicare benefits unless you sign up for their plan.
- Pressure you with time limits to enroll in their plan. You can use the entire Fall Open Enrollment Period to make your decisions. You will not receive extra benefits for signing up early for a plan.
- Offer your gifts to enroll in their plan. Gifts must be given to everyone at an event regardless of their enrollment choice, and cannot be worth more than $15.
- Send you mail
- Have educational exhibits at public events
- Call or email you about other health plans and products, as long as you are already a plan member and haven’t asked them not to call or email
- Schdeule an appointment to discuss plan options with you, but
- Before the appointment, you must formally decide which topics you and the broker will discuss
- There generally must be 48 hours between agreeing to the scope of appointment and the appointment itself
- Broker cannot go over other topics unless you give them separate permission beforehand
- Broker may not talk to other people (such as your neighbors) during, beofre, or after the appointment
- Call, text, or leave voicemails, unless you are already a plan member or you gave the plan permission
- Email or call you (even if you are a plan member) if you opt out of this communication
- Ask for your personal information or try to sell you a plan at an educational exhibit
- Approach you in public areas, such as a parking lot, hallway, or sidewalk
- Give you prizes or gifts worth over $15
- Cannot be in the form of cash
- Cannot require enrollment or an appointment to get the gift
- Conduct promotional activities worth more than $15 per expected event attendee
- Provide full meals at sales / marketing events, although light snacks are okay
Tips for avoiding unwanted enrollment:
Never provide your Medicare information to anyone but your trusted health care providers. Confirm everything that a plan agent tells you before making a final decision about a plan. Ask for everything in writing. Call your doctors to make sure they are in network for the plan you want to join.