I hope you are having a great summer so far. I want to thank all of you who have been giving me referrals. They are greatly appreciated and help my business immensely. I’m very thankful for the trust you have placed in me for your own insurance needs and that you trust me enough to refer me. Again, thank you. This newsletter is going to have a lot of information regarding scams and fraud. There’s so much of that going on right now. However, we will start with some good news on prescriptions.
Some GOOD NEWS – The inflation bill signed last year made some positive changes for Part D prescription drug coverage. Starting this year Part D is covering shingles vaccine along with other adult vaccines recommended by the CDC at no cost. Starting next year, in 2024, those who go through the donut hole before the end of the year and into the catastrophic 5% copay phase will NOT have to pay the 5% copayment for prescriptions for the rest of the year. Which means after your 25% copayment of retail drugs reaches your true out of pocket maximum, your copay will drop down to $0. Starting in 2025 Part D prescriptions copays will be limited to a $2,000 maximum out of pocket. After 2025, the Part D max limit of $2,000 will be indexed for inflation.
There are approximately 600,000 people in the state of Ohio receiving letters about redetermination for Medicaid status. Many people are losing their Medicaid coverage. If you or if you know someone who is losing their Medicaid status, please call me or have them call me. I can help.
Congress needs to get moving on shoring up Social Security and Medicare both. Social Security will be unable to pay full retiree benefits starting in 2034 according to the latest annual report. Which means people will be hit with a 23% decrease in benefits. Also, Medicare Part A will only be able to cover 100% of its bills until 2031. Lawmakers are considering raising the retirement age, increasing payroll taxes or a combination of the two and there’s also been talk about “means testing”. Means testing is where if you have a certain level of savings, you are required to spend those before they give you full benefits of your Social Security. But don’t worry, seniors are the largest and most active voting bloc. Because of that, Congress will not let anything happen to your Social Security or Medicare regardless of what political party is in power. They are just going to wait until the last minute to do something as usual.
If someone gets your Medicare number, they can use it to get medical care or buy prescription drugs in your name. Check your explanation of benefits carefully to be sure all the charges on it are things that were done for you. Unfortunately, these days we need to be vigilant and check all our statements.
Called the “New Medicare Card” scam, the scammers are posing as employees of the Social Security Administration, Medicare, and even the Ohio Department of Insurance. They call their intended victims and say the person needs a new Medicare card or they need to turn in their paper card for a plastic card. The scammers then request the person’s personal information. Government agencies, such as the Social Security Administration, Medicare, and the Ohio Department of Insurance do not randomly call Ohioans on Medicare.
How Ohioans on Medicare can protect themselves:
- Never give personal information, including Medicare, Social Security, bank account, and credit card numbers, to anyone who contacts you unsolicited by telephone, email, text, or in person, such as door-to-door sales.
- Know that Medicare will never call you to sell anything, visit your home, or enroll you over the phone unless you called first.
- Keep in mind that Medicare or Medicare health plans will only call and request personal information if you are a plan member, or you called and left a message.
Ohioans who suspect or have been victimized by a Medicare scam should contact the Ohio Senior Medicare Patrol at 800-488-6070 or proseniors.org.
Fraud and identity theft are major problems. More than 15 million people lost over $20 billion last year. Scammers are getting smarter and some are even using artificial intelligence (AI) as a tool to help defraud people. Kiplinger ‘s personal finance magazine recently had a huge article about how to protect and prevent fraud. Keeping your Social Security number safe is a major one. Do not carry your Social Security card in your wallet and do not give it out on forms unless it’s really needed. A strong way to prevent financial fraud is to freeze your credit. You have to contact all three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). For a guide on how to do that go to kiplinger.com/links/freeze. Also, if you still have your old Medicare card that has your Social Security number on it be sure to destroy it soon.
Another item that has a high target value for thieves is your ATM or debit card. Personally, I never use one and I’ve spoken to bankers that personally never use one. Credit cards are safer and when there’s a dispute, they often take care of all of it. But if you love your debit card and are using it at the gas station for example be sure to look at the keypads. If the pad feels strange or any pieces are loose or misaligned, a card skimmer could be installed there.
To prevent criminals from hacking into your financial accounts, use strong unique passwords and two factor authentication when possible. Use a password and then have them send you an e-mail or text on your phone with the security number for you to enter before you can access your accounts online.
You also really need to watch out for fraudulent emails. I get these all the time and some of them are very tricky. There’s usually a strange letter in the e-mail address from the person sending it to you. They’re getting better at not making it obvious such as using zero for the letter O. These scam emails will encourage you to click on something and either start involving you in the scam or putting malware on your computer.
They are now starting to use AI to clone people’s voices and then call family members or friends and solicit money sounding like you on the phone. It’s going to be hard to trust anyone pretty soon unless you’re looking at them face to face (and not on a screen).
Another thing to watch out for is public charging stations. Devious people have figured out a way to use public USB ports to introduce malware and monitoring software onto your devices so take your own chargers to airports and hotels – don’t use the public ones.
After damaging weather, home repair contractors often go door-to-door to offer roofing, siding, and other repair services. While most contractors are reputable, there are some dishonest contractors who prey on consumers eager to quickly get their property and lives back in order.
10 things you can do to avoid contractor fraud:
- Contact your insurance company to file a claim before hiring a contractor.
- Make sure the contractor you hire is legitimate.
- Know the warning signs of a bad business.
- Don’t pay in full upfront.
- Get an estimate from at least three different contractors.
- Learn the difference between “licensed” and “registered.”
- Be cautious about signing an assignment of benefits.
- Get a written contract.
- Obtain the contractor’s essential business information.
- Educate yourself about the property damage recovery process and insurance.
Contractor Fraud Awareness Week was May 22-26, and the Ohio Department of Insurance shared tips to help Ohioans protect themselves and their hard-earned money.
I have seen ads on TV for “A Place for Mom”. It is a service that helps you find local nursing home places to fit your needs and wants. My wife Cathy used it to help find a facility for her dad. She went to several different places they recommended, and she said they were all very nice compared to places she looked at that they had not recommended.
In my October 2022 newsletter I mentioned adding another phone number. This was due to a new Medicare rule requiring business calls to be recorded. Medicare has withdrawn this rule starting in October so I will be dropping the phone number in September. So, please do not call the 33O-298-5894 phone number.
Our family is doing well. Cathy has been very busy helping her brother with the farm, my business, and doing the monthly administrative work for everyone. Our two grandsons are a real joy and we found out we now have a third grandchild on the way due around Thanksgiving. We’re all very excited. Our son Nathan’s job is going very well, and his brother Andrew is busy this summer leading mission trips for his youth group at church. Cathy and I went on a Caribbean cruise in April and had a very nice time. Coming back wasn’t as much fun as we spent nearly 32 hours trying to get flights to get home. Air travel is sure not what it used to be. But we had a great time and would do it again.
I hope you find this newsletter helpful. Thanks again for the referrals and please keep sending them my way. Even with the advertising I am doing, they are still the primary source of business for me, so thank you. If you get a chance, stop by the Randolph fair and say hi. We will be in the merchants building August 22nd – 27th.
Have a great summer,
Chris and Cathy Boring