Have you seen those commercials from actors (or an ex-football player that used to pose in pantyhose) telling you to call right now to make sure you’re not missing any benefits? Have you received a phone call from someone claiming they’re from Medicare? Have enough mail to cover up Dorothy’s yellow brick road?

The most important part of being a Medicare beneficiary is making sure that you are covering the gaps in original Medicare, based on your medical and financial situation. Make sure that you understand the differences and associated costs between the two options for coverage:

1) Medicare Supplement/Medigap + Drug Plan (Part D) + Dental Plan + Vision Plan 2) Medicare Advantage (Part C).

Here are three questions I get asked the most regarding these commercials and phone calls:

Q: Am I missing out on extra benefits?

A: Original Medicare does not offer extra benefits like some Medicare Advantage plans. Some have extra benefits for those that financially qualify. Some have benefits to help people with chronic health conditions. Some Medicare Advantage plans may also offer extra benefits for plan members after a hospital or skilled nursing facility stay without limiting that benefit to people with chronic conditions. (See CMS Your Medicare Benefits)

Q: Do I need Part C?

A: Medicare Advantage plans are also known as Part C. You cannot have both a Medicare Supplement/Medigap plan and a Drug Plan (Part D) and a Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C).

Q: I got a phone call from Medicare/Social Security/My Pharmacy…

A: Anytime someone claims they’re from Medicare or Social Security, it’s a scam. NEVER give out your Medicare number or Social Security number to them. If you get a phone call saying it’s your pharmacy, tell them that you’ll call them back and then look the number up and call.

If you are being harassed by phone calls, there are some things that you can do to fight back. First, file your phone number on www.donotcall.gov and second, report the phone calls. Each time someone calls you after your number is registered, they can receive a $10,000 fine from the Federal Communications Commission, even if they’re calling from overseas.

Regarding those commercials, please be advised that if you call that 800 number, you might be giving multiple call centers permission to contact you, and your registration in www.donotcall.gov will not apply.

The annual election period is October 15 through December 7. You should review your Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) letter with your local, trusted, licensed, independent insurance agent/broker. There is no charge for their services, and you won’t find a better price by trying to navigate it on your own, nor by trying to see the Wizard of Oz.

Mary Hiatt is President of Mary the Medicare Lady (A non-government entity.) See www.hiattagency.com or email mary@hiattagency.com or call or text (402) 672-9449 for more information.

We do not offer every plan available in your area. Currently we represent 15 organizations which offer 92 products in your area. Please contact Medicare.gov, 1-800-MEDICARE, or your local State Health Insurance Program (SHIP) to get information on all of your options.