Open enrollment periods for Medicare mean seniors must be wary of high-pressure sales pitches, warns New York State Insurance Superintendent James Wrynn.

With enrollment periods stretching from Nov. 15 through Dec. 31 and changes taking effect on Jan. 1, Wrynn urges seniors to be aware of several guidelines when dealing with agents or Medicare changes:

  • Unsolicited contacts are against Federal regulation. Agents are prohibited from contacting clients via door-to-door sales, e-mails, and telephone calls without expressed invitation.
  • Medicare will never send a “representative” to solicit business and has no sales agents. “Be especially wary of any sales person who claims to represent the program.”
  • The offer of a free meal in exchange for listening to a Medicare Advantage sales presentation is prohibited by Federal regulation.

For agents, Wrynn has a similar warning: “Most insurance agents and brokers are reputable, but there have been far too many cases where senior citizens have been targeted by unscrupulous sales people using misleading practices. Agents and brokers will face fines and possible revocations of their licenses if they engage in improper sales practices.”

Additionally, Wrynn offers several tips to seniors for successful Medicare meetings:

  • Consider asking a friend or relative to be present during any meeting with an insurance agent as selecting a policy can be complicated.
  • Remember that not all plans are created equal. Be sure to read the policy and check with providers before enrolling.