Minnesota officials warn residents of Medicare schemes

Minnesota insurance regulators are investigating potentially misleading advertising for new Medicare coverage. 

The Minnesota Commerce Department is warning older consumers to watch out for scams as the open enrollment period begins, Minnesota Public Radio reported .

Kelli Jo Greiner, who's with the state Board on Aging, said a change in federal law is ending Medicare Cost plans and forcing nearly 400,000 Minnesota residents to find new coverage. Greiner said there are more insurers and agents selling Medicare coverage in the state than ever before.

"With that you see the susceptibility to illegal -- or marketing practices that are not necessarily what they should be," she said.

Greiner said the board is receiving more reports than usual about elderly residents receiving unsolicited, high-pressure sales calls. 

"Direct calls -- unless the beneficiary has said they want that call -- cannot be initiated by the company and we're seeing that's happening in Minnesota," she said.

Greiner said seniors are feeling frustrated with the end of the Cost plans and the intense selling activity.

Residents should also be aware of the differences between the official Medicare website, which is Medicare.gov, and non-government sites such as Medicare.com or Medicare.net, the Commerce Department said.

Consumers looking to get out of a plan have until the end of open enrollment on Dec. 7 to make the switch. Those seeking to replace a Cost plan have until Feb. 23 to make a change, Greiner said. Residents with questions should reach out to the state's Senior LinkAge, she said.