With Only Days Left Until The Deadline For Medicare Changes, Seniors Need To Be Wary Of Too-good-to-be True TV Offers, Vicari Says

Senior citizens have only until Monday, December 7 to make changes to their Medicare plans, but Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari urged older adults to use caution before falling victim to some of the questionable offers that are flooding TV channels.

“You can’t turn on the television without being bombarded by ads from celebrities hawking these too-good-to-be true Medicare supplements,” Vicari said. “With the enrollment deadline fast approaching, I want to remind senior citizens and their families to do some research before pursuing some of these so-called offers.”

Vicari advised residents to contact the Ocean County Office of Senior Services for reliable information.

“Our office has been bombarded by calls from seniors and in many cases we’ve been able to save them quite a bit of money by referring them to plans that meet their individual needs,” Vicari said.

Each year in the months and weeks before the enrollment deadline, the office provides counselors to meet one-on-one with seniors seeking a plan that is best for them.

“It’s been challenging this year because of the pandemic but we’re still working on the phones and we have held some very successful outreach programs,” said Maria La Face, Office of Senior Services director. “We have seen some people in person at our Toms River offices and at the County Connection in the Ocean County Mall.

Last month office staff visited the Original Leisure Village in Lakewood and assisted about 30 seniors in person. Plexiglas shields, masks and other safety measures were put in place for the safety of both seniors and her staff, La Face said.

“One of biggest obstacles our counselors faced this year was explaining that the television ads, such as the one starring Joe Namath, were presenting a mythical product,” La Face said. “Namath and the other spokesmen describe the advantages that are available in a multitude of Advantage plans and present it as one particular plan. This magical plan does not exist.”

Vicari said these commercials are not only misleading, but they are “dangerous.”

“We have had seniors call our office ready to give up their plans and switch to a supplement that is not only more expensive, but offers less coverage,” he said.

In another case, La Face said she spoke with a retired government employee with a premium-free medical plan that was tempted to give it up and sign up for an offer she saw on TV.

Vicari and La Face said there is still time to contact the Office of Senior Services and schedule a virtual meeting with Medicare counselors.

“Our office has seven counselors on staff and also utilizes volunteer counselors, who are certified by the state,” La Face said. “We have already served 581 seniors with open enrollment and we still have 18 appointments scheduled before December 7th when open enrollment ends.

Vicari said that by reviewing plans for our seniors, we have “saved them thousands of dollars in prescription or plan costs.”

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