Shutdown Impacting Medicare Sign Up
By Sean Powers
The open enrollment period for Medicare began on Tuesday, but because of the partial government shutdown, signing up could be a little more challenging.
Even though Medicare.gov is online despite the shutdown, the website warns users that information posted may not be up to date.
Linda Tauber-Olson is with the Presence Covenant Center for Healthy Living in Champaign, and she is helping people sign up for coverage. But she advises them not to go to Medicare.gov to enroll since updated information isn’t flowing from insurance companies to the website.
“You can contact the insurance company directly if you want to make sure the information is accurate, and they’re still help available,” she said. “We’re still going to get people enrolled. It’s just going to be a little different, and I would encourage people not to use the Medicare.gov website to enroll at this time.”
Medicare's open enrollment period lasts until Dec. 7, which Tauber-Olson said is plenty of time to sign up.
Meanwhile, with the open enrollment period for Medicare kicking off, people should be cautious about scams. Matthew Andres is the director of the Elder Financial Justice Clinic in the University of Illinois’ College of Law. He said Medicare scams have been happening for years, and he said there’s no reason to believe they will let up.
“People need to be aware that they may receive phone calls from people asking for personal information,” Andres said. “The government is not going to cold call people. So, those phone calls are always scams, and they should not provide personal information to people over the phone that they have not called themselves. If the government wants personal information, they will solicit it by mail.”
Medicare covers people 65 years or older, and it is separate from the Affordable Care Act. Andres said he has heard about cases of fraud in other states tied to health care law.