MONTPELIER, VT -The Department of Financial Regulation issues a consumer alert in light of open enrollment for Medicare. The alert explains the different types of Medicare. The goal is to help older Vermonters protect themselves from scams and deceptive advertising.

Commissioner Michael Pieciak said he wanted to issue an alert after an increase in ads for what’s known as Medicare advantage. He explained that Medicare Advantage advertises a lot of benefits that aren’t health related.

“You are seeing such a rash of advertising in this space suggesting that seniors can get free at home meal delivery, gym memberships, some are even saying that they can add $100 to your Medicare check and these are benefits that you’d be offered if you took Medicare advantage,” said Pieciak.

Pieciak said many of these ads are misleading, because in reality only a very small number of people are actually eligible for those added benefits. However, they are often times sold as if everyone is eligible. No one can be guaranteed for all those benefits before they sign up and then you are only guaranteed those benefits if you have chronic illness, according to Pieciak.  If you switch to Medicare advantage and want to go back to Medicare supplemental, your rates could substantially increase.

While Medicare Advantage is a real thing, Pieciak says there are many people out there trying to scam seniors.

“Licensed professionals are not allowed to make those unsolicited calls.  Another thing is people will call and say that they are a Medicare representative a sales representative. Medicare the government agency doesn’t have sales representatives,” said Pieciak.

The department of disabilities, aging, and independent living commissioner is partnering with the department of financial regulation in an effort to help seniors.  Department of disabilities, aging, and Independent Living Commissioner Monica Hutt said they do things all year round to help seniors identify scams. They help older Vermonters find insurance scams as well as dating/online website scams, and other possible scams. However, she feels it is super important to educate seniors during open enrollment.  

“It’s critical because I think there are ample opportunity and ample individuals out there looking to take advantage of Vermonters and older Vermonters in particular,” said Hutt.

Officials’ advice if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. They say to make sure consumers are always reading the fine print.

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