The open enrollment period for Medicare prescription drug plans and Medicare Advantage plans got underway Monday. The Kansas Insurance Department says people need to be alert for potential scams.
The concern is heightened this year because the Medicare signup period coincides with the opening of the insurance exchanges under the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare.
Linda Sheppard is in charge of health care policy and analysis at the Kansas Insurance Department. She says a lot of seniors are confused and think they need to use the exchange to sign up for Medicare.
"You don't have to touch the exchange. You do it exactly the same way you've been doing it now with the Medicare website," says Sheppard. "If you want to buy your supplement plans, you can continue to buy those the way you do now, working directly with the companies."
The important thing to remember is that the exchanges are for younger people who don't get insurance through their employers to buy their own individual policies.
Medicare is entirely separate and has its own website and phone number, 1-800-MEDICARE.
Sheppard says you should be wary of door-to-door salespeople. In addition, the law was changed last year to prohibit companies from offering free meals in exchange for listening to their sales pitches.