Beware Of Con Artists Targeting Mississippi Medicare Patients

A warning for seniors on Medicare: State Leaders say con-artists are pushing Medicare part C and D plans on seniors, in some cases, without them even knowing.

"These thieves must be stopped," Sen. Terry Burton of Newton said.

A coalition of state leaders and agencies is taking on the "thieves." They're so-called salesmen going door to door, sometimes pretending to be from Medicare.

"Some of these companies have representatives out there preying on the elderly, lying to them, misrepresenting the facts to them and, yes, stealing from them," Burton said.

WLOX News first reported on the problem back in February when 73-year-old Margaret McBrain was targeted by a caller. He asked for personal banking information. Then came the pressure tactic.

"He said that if I didn't take his insurance, in two months the government was going to take $300 out of my Social Security check," McBrain said.

McBrain knew the pitch was bogus, but others haven't been so lucky. Several victims had no knowledge of changing plans, only to be stuck with high medical bills their original plans would have covered.

Thousands of complaints have poured into the Department of Human Services about this Medicare fraud. They started in Columbus late last year, but are now coming in from all over Mississippi.

So far the insurance department has revoked the license of at least one salesman in north Mississippi, and Commissioner George Dale says a number of other complaints are under investigation.

"We're going to do the best we can to take the proper action, but the purpose of this is to warn seniors and senior family members," Dale said.

Some simple advice: Beware on anyone going door to door, and consult someone you trust before making any changes to your plan.

If you suspect you, or someone you know, has been a medicare victim, call the Mississippi Insurance Department at 1-800-562-2957 and The Department of Human Services at 1-800-948-3090.

by Wendy Suares