Many of us don’t necessarily think twice about security surrounding our health care; instead, we want care to be easy and affordable. Recently, new fraud and scam warnings have surfaced surrounding the Medicare program, particularly during open season, which began on October 15. Those ‘scammers’ are seeking critical insurance data and financial information along with passwords that will provide access to your account. These precautions also apply to the FEHB Open Season  that runs from November 11h through December 9th.
Your personal information provides opportunities for these criminals. Emails and/or calls to unsuspecting consumers produce confidential data to include social security numbers, Medicare numbers and more, that foster fraudulent claims by the perpetrators. Medicare’s “Tips to Prevent Fraud ” page recommends participants protect their Medicare Number and Social Security Numbers, use a calendar to record all of your doctor’s appointments and any tests you get, and know what your health care plan can and can’t do before joining. Our FEHB Plans  provide comprehensive brochures outlining all of our benefits. Review them to ensure you are signing up for the benefits you need before enrolling. I recommend downloading a copy or request a printed copy of your FEHB Plan brochure and keep it with your medical records.
It is further recommended that you don’t:
- Give your confidential information such as Medicare, Social Security, and FEHB provider cards or numbers, including your CSA retirement ID number to anyone except people you know should have it.
- Accept offers of money or gifts for free medical care.
- Allow anyone, except your doctor or other Medicare providers, to review your medical records or recommend services.
- Contact your doctor to request a service that you don’t need.
Scammers often pose as employees of government and private organizations to obtain sensitive and/or personal information. This key data then enables the perpetrators to apply for benefits, submit false claims for monetary return or even steal identities.
Often, around FEHB Open Season, many insurers try to entice retirees that have Federal Employee Healthcare Benefits (FEHB) and are enrolled in traditional Medicare A & B to switch to a Medicare Supplement Plan. Federal retirees need to be cautious and weigh all options carefully. Medicare Supplement Plans are not Medicare Advantage Part C plans and you risk losing your FEHB coverage or the ability to return to the program which could prove to be catastrophic. Here is a series of articles that I wrote on this subject that can help you determine what is best for you and your circumstances:
- Medicare and FEHB Options – What Will You Do When You Turn 65? (Part 1)
- A Marriage of Convenience – Medicare & FEHB 
- What to Consider Before Enrolling in Medicare B  (Part 2)
- Should You Change to a Lower Cost FEHB Plan When You Sign Up for Medicare (Part 3) 
- Caution – Don’t Lose Your FEHB Coverage 
- Medicare Part B and FEHB Update  (Part 4)
- How to Delay Part B Premiums 
The public should be aware that no one from Medicare would attempt to contact beneficiaries asking for their Medicare or Social Security numbers. Instead, consumers should simply hang up on those callers and not respond to any correspondence or emails that are received under such false pretenses. You may also receive emails or calls alleging that your bank or credit card account has been compromised and they ask you for confidential information. Hang up and contact the bank or establishment in question if you are concerned about a security breach.
Medicare never sends their employees to an individual’s home to obtain data or sell supplemental health care plans; Medicare numbers and personal information should only be given to a pharmacist, doctor or other trusted members of Medicare, period.
In order to protect your Medicare benefits  and personal data, it is recommended that your Medicare card be treated like a debit or credit card; review statements, check claim summary forms, routinely look for erroneous information and/or errors in your account in order to report issues. Also, check medications carefully while at the pharmacy, and be aware of any other activities surrounding Medicare billing and/or coverages. Any suspected fraud or abuse should be reported immediately, either by calling 1-800-633-4227 or by going to the following link to fill out a report: https://www.oig.hhs.gov/fraud/report-fraud/ .
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Helpful Retirement Planning Tools / Resources
- Retirement Planning Guide 
- Social Security Guidance  (FERS & CSRS)
- Federal Employee Retirement Benefits Seminars – Check Availability 
- Financial Planning Guide 
- Master Retiree Contact List  (Contact numbers and information)
- 2020 Leave and Schedule Chart  (Excel chart tracks all leave balances. Use this chart to set target retirement dates.)
- Annuity Calculator (FREE Excel chart estimates annuity growth)
Note: Dr. Donna Day , one of our guest writers, coauthored this article.
Disclaimer: Opinions expressed herein by the author are not an investment or benefit recommendation and are not meant to be relied upon in investment or benefit decisions. The author is not acting in an investment, tax, legal, benefit, or any other advisory capacity. This is not an investment or benefit research report. The author’s opinions expressed herein address only select aspects of various federal benefits and potential investment in securities of the TSP and companies mentioned and cannot be a substitute for comprehensive investment analysis. Any analysis presented herein is illustrative in nature, limited in scope, based on an incomplete set of information, and has limitations to its accuracy. The author recommends that retirees, potential and existing investors conduct thorough investment and benefit research of their own, including detailed review of OPM guidance for benefit issues and for investments the companies’ SEC filings, and consult a qualified investment adviser. The information upon which this material is based was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but has not been independently verified. Therefore, the author cannot guarantee its accuracy. Any opinions or estimates constitute the author’s best judgment as of the date of publication, and are subject to change without notice. The author explicitly disclaims any liability that may arise from the use of this material.
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