(ST JOSEPH, Mo) A local family has a warning for seniors making changes to their medicare plans this year. Lisa Papenberg and her mother, Mary Schaefer are sharing their experience after someone approached Schaeffer offering a Medicare Advantage Plan.
"I would never want anyone to change their insurance before talking to someone else," Lisa Papenberg, Schaefer's daughter said.
"A lady approached her door and talked her into switching insurance," Papenberg said.
Papenberg says her mom was solicited at her senior living community, she told us they just walked up to Schaefer's front door and talked her into signing up for a Medicare Advantage Plan she later discovered she didn't need.
Medicare Advantage Plans also called Part C or Part D coverage are different than original Medicare, they're operated by private companies that each have their own set of rules when it comes to health coverage.
In Schaefer's case, the new plan required her to cover more of her health costs herself, not to mention it also kicked her off of her original medicare, leaving her in a financial bind.
Licensed insurance agents say the practice of going door-to-door to offer Medicare Advantage Plans is not only intrusive, it's also against the law.
"That is an illegal practice to go door-to-door for a Medicare Advantage or Part D." Jerry Makison, certified insurance agent, said.
Makison said he sees situations like this all the time in St. Joseph, he said he stresses to his customers the importance of fully understanding what they are signing up for.
He says many of clients are coming to him after they've been solicited, often they're in a bad financial situation.
"You think it sounds good, and you go through it and you do it," Schaefer said, "Then you realize you've made a terrible mistake."
Makison says the solicitors often dissappear just as fast as they appear.
"Once that agent makes their sell, what's the odds of you seeing them again, you don't know where they're at." Makison said.
To protect yourself from being a victim, makison says knowledge is power, he says it's about knowing what's legal, and knowing your rights.
"They don't have the right to knock on your door and try to sell you a Medicare Advantage Plan or Part D, nor do they have the right to call you and harass you by phone," Makison said. "You have a right to let the Department of Insurance know that agent did that to you."
Schaefer says she found out three months later that her regular Part B coverage was canceled, she said even though they were only enrolled in the new plan for 30 minutes, it still left them responsible for the gap in coverage which took months to fix.