ICYMI: Senator Marshall Hosts Town Hall On Medicare Open Enrollment

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Roger Marshall, M.D. hosted a telephone town hall with Kansas seniors on Medicare Open Enrollment season that began on October 7. On the call, he discussed helpful resources available to Kansans looking to enroll, ways to identify scams, and best practices when picking your plan. 

In addition to today’s call, Senator Marshall launched a website exclusively on the Medicare Open Enrollment process and ways our office can help. 

During the town hall, Senator Marshall answered questions from Kansans. 

Highlights from the town hall include: 

Question: What if I like my Medicare plan, do I need to do anything to keep it?

Senator Marshall: So that’s probably the most common question we get. But you’re right, if you’re happy in your current situation, you don’t have to do anything else. And if you get particular current concerns about it, like maybe you’re wanting to add…something like prescription drugs to it, maybe that’s not part of the original plan… You could even follow up with the current company you have and say, ‘Well, what else would they do’ to keep your business, so to speak. I think that that’s an idea as well but you don’t have to do anything at all.

Question: What are the differences between Medicare and Medicare Advantage?

Senator Marshall: I’m going to talk about what traditional Medicare does not cover. And I think about eyes, ears, and mouth. So traditional Medicare does not cover vision. It does not cover hearing aids, and it does not cover dental. Medicare Advantage, think of it as more of a managed care plan. And sometimes they entice you with those offerings as well. So I think that’s always the devil in the detail. But the biggest difference to me is that Medicare Advantage programs are a managed care program. 

Question: How can Kansans avoid health care scams? How do I know if someone calls offering Medicare assistance that it’s not a scam?

Senator Marshall: I think it’s really difficult to try to figure that out, I’d be very cautious of answering any numbers you don’t recognize, answering emails or text, that type of thing. I really think it’d be better for you to reach out to Medicare Advantage programs. 

Next, I’d be very concerned about an insurance company from out of state, unless they have a strong local presence. We’re seeing more and more of these types of insurance companies open up, they take your money, they take the Medicare funding from the federal government and then they shut down, they leave the doctor the hospital high and dry. And then they’re sending that bill back to the patient to say, hey, your insurance company didn’t pay anything at all. So I think I would be very cautious answering any phone calls, texts or any emails from somebody that you don’t know and recognize. And you have to be careful. 

On our website, we do have these tips to avoid scams. Block unwanted calls and texts, if you don’t know how to do that, call our Salina office and they can explain to you how to block unwanted calls and text messages. Never give out your personal information. If they ask for your social security number, do not give it, if they ask for financial information, never ever give them your bank account information. Never give them your credit card number… If you feel like you’re getting scammed, reach out to our office and we’ll get ahold of authorities as well. Don’t use gift cards, don’t use money transfers, do not be wiring money to anybody. And again, just be careful.

Question: What are some helpful Medicare tips for Kansas seniors to consider when changing their plan?

Senator Marshall: I know we’re kind of reiterating here, but it’s good to get the message across. Again, I just cannot be more thankful than I am for my community pharmacist, these folks are taking care of you, they’re taking care of your mom and dad. They know what medications you’re on. If you’re considering switching, you should ask them if they’ve had experience with this plan. And lots of times they’ll even reach out to the plan and say what are your rules going to be? You know, the great thing is they’ve already got the list of medications you’re on. So that’s a great place to start with. 

If you have a local doctor and most every doctor’s office has that nurse that you know by first name, and they know you by the first name, you could ask them, just call the doctor’s office, leave a message for them to call you back. And if that nurse doesn’t know, I bet they can ask the office manager about the plan you’re looking at as well. 

The last tip I would give you is, ask them how they handle an emergency when you’re out of state. Is that going to be a bigger charge for you out of pocket because, you know, maybe that hospital is not part of their plan. And of course, you want to make sure that your favorite hospital is part of their plan.. not every hospital is on their plan. And sometimes they may force you to drive across the city, or go out of the city, or even out of state, if the particular hospital you like is not on their plans. So I think that’s some of the summary points as well. 

For additional questions about the open enrollment period, you can call Senator Marshall’s Salina office at 785-829-9000 to speak with a Medicare specialist.