7 On Your Side: Medicare Advantage Plans

By Courtney Lane - bio | email

EAST TEXAS (KLTV) - Many seniors are being tricked into signing away their Medicare benefits.

Even though Federal Law prohibits door to door solicitation, doctors say a lot of their senior patients are being targeted and tricked into signing up for Medicare Advantage Programs that could be even more costly.

Diana Martin of Longview says she trusted a man who came to her door selling a Medicare Advantage Program called "Today's Options." It sounded like a good deal. He said there would be no charge and it would not change her benefits but then she read the fine print.

"The very last paragraph said this takes you off Medicare. So then I called him immediately and told him 'take me off of this, I don't want it' and he assured me it would no problem," said Martin.

But Diana says they signed her up anyway without her knowledge. She had eye surgery then found out this advantage plan didn't pay for any portion of her procedure.

"I had to come up with the money up front for my surgery," said Martin. "It has been extremely stressful to think that somebody could come in and deceive you and change things that I've had for years."

When it comes to Medicare, there are a lot of options. Julia Ayers with Azalea Medicare Supplements says that's what some agents prey on.

"They unfortunately sometimes come along and try to confuse people, which is not only unethical, but as I said it is illegal to walk up to someone's door and talk to them about Medicare Advantage Plans," said Ayers.

Now some of Ayers' clients prefer Advantage Plans, just make sure your doctor accepts it and realize they come with co-pays. We're told a lot of doctors do not accept these.

Bottom line, if someone comes to your door don't talk to them and especially do not show them your Medicare card. Before switching plans, take time to weigh your options and get recommendations. And if you have a problem or feel you've been tricked report it by calling 1-800-Medicare.

Fortunately, Martin was able to get her plan reversed but not after a lot of paperwork and hassle. Once switched, a lot of seniors have to wait a year before they can change plans again.

Copyright 2010 KLTV. All rights reserved.