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How to help your parents with Medicare open enrollment and avoid scams

HOUSTON – Plenty of us are taking care of our children and our parents at the same time. In the middle of the pandemic, we’re helping our children learn virtually at home, but our parents have homework too.

Medicare open enrollment is here. It’s open until December 7.

“It can definitely be overwhelming because there are so many choices,” said Angy Newell, a Katy-area mom. Newell has two elementary-aged children and her mom also lives with them.

“She can’t live on her own because of the Alzheimer’s,” said Newell.

Newell’s dad originally enrolled her mom in Medicare, but he has since passed away. Now, it is Newell’s responsibility.

Medicare open enrollment is the time of year when your parents get the chance to shop around for a new plan to save money on prescriptions or change up doctors.

Get organized

According to Rose Ortega, from the Area Agency on Aging of Harris County here’s what you need:

  • A list of your parent’s medications and dosage.
  • Pharmacy.
  • Doctors' names.
  • Medicare card.
  • Parent’s income.

Comparison shop

Then, comparison shop. The easiest way is the Medicare.gov website.

First, you chose which Medicare plan you want to explore. Then, answer a few questions like ZIP code, medicines and dosage, pharmacy and additional coverage, Finally, click on plans.

Benefits counselors

If you need help, reach out to a benefits counselor.

Call the State Health Insurance Assistance Program at 800-252-9240 and speak to a qualified benefits counselor. Or call 832-393-4301 or 800-213-8471 to reach the Harris County Area Agency on Aging.

Watch out for scams

The Texas Senior Medicare Patrol warns you to watch out for scams.

Agent/broker prohibited behaviors

  • Agents may not state they are from Medicare or use the term “Medicare” in a misleading manner.
  • Cannot solicit potential enrollees door-to-door (in person or via leaflet/flyer).
  • Cannot approach beneficiaries in common areas (i.e. parking lots, hallways, lobbies, sidewalks).
  • Agents cannot send unsolicited text messages and leave voicemail messages. However, agents may call or visit beneficiaries who attended a marketing or sales event when prior permission is given and documented.
  • Cannot ask beneficiaries for a referral list (list of friends or family who may be interested in a plan).
  • Calls to prospective enrollees to confirm receipt of mailed information.

Tips on how to stop fraud during open enrollment

  • Medicare will never call or visit. Medicare will only send information via the Postal Service.
  • Guard your Medicare card and number like a credit card.
  • Don’t give out your Medicare number except to your doctor or other providers.
  • Don’t let someone push you into making a fast decision.
  • If you receive a call, especially from a number you do not recognize or anyone requesting personal information hang up immediately.
  • No health care plan is allowed to cold call.