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  • Writer's pictureArwen Rasmussen

Feeling Bombarded by Celebrity Commercials?

Here are a few things to know before you call…


By Ingrid Kundinger, Wisconsin Senior Medicare Patrol Project Manager


If you watch television, you have likely seen the commercials for Medicare insurance. Some of these commercials feature famous athletes delivering “important information if you are on Medicare”. Other commercials might make you feel like you are missing out on all sorts of benefits that you are entitled to. Are you nodding your head right now because you’ve seen these commercials?


These types of commercials are intensifying due to Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period which is October 15 – December 7, 2022. This is the time of year that Medicare health and drug plans can make changes each year – things like cost, coverage, and what providers and pharmacies are in networks. This is also the time of year when all people with Medicare can change their Medicare health plans and prescription drug coverage for the following year to better meet their needs. Be careful and do your homework to make sure that you understand what benefits and plans are available to you where you live.

Here are a few important things to keep in mind:


  • While the commercials use the word Medicare, the red, white, and blue colors and images of a Medicare card, the telephone numbers that are displayed are NOT Medicare, but rather a licensed insurance agent or broker.

  • The benefits that are mentioned (eyeglasses, hearing aids, rides to appointments, etc.) are benefits that MAY be offered with certain Medicare Advantage plans. Medicare Advantage plans vary greatly from state to state, and even county to county.

  • Some commercials mention that you may qualify for money added back to your Social Security check every month or that you may qualify for a zero-dollar premium or mention available benefits at no additional cost. Be careful as there are conditions that apply to these statements.


What’s the bottom line? By responding to the TV commercials, you may end up with a Medicare Advantage plan that is not available in your area, does not include your preferred health care provider, or has costs that you were not anticipating. And since the new plan doesn’t go into effect until January 1, 2023, you may not find out these things until it’s too late.


So, what can you do to make sure that you understand all your options?

Do your homework and become an informed consumer. Make sure that you understand the differences between Medicare Part A, B, C, and D and other plans available such as Medigap. Yes, it can be complicated, but there are available resources across the state of Wisconsin that provide unbiased information, at no cost to you.


Important Resources for Wisconsin Medicare Beneficiaries:

  • Benefit Specialists at local Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs) and aging units for every county and tribe offer benefits counseling. For contact information, https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/benefit-specialists/index.htm or call 608-266-2536.

  • Contact Medicare directly by calling (800-633-4227) or visiting https://www.medicare.gov/.

  • The Wisconsin Senior Medicare Patrol (888-818-2611) operates a toll-free helpline for Medicare beneficiaries and their families to call to report suspected Medicare fraud, errors, and abuse.


The Wisconsin SMP is located at the Greater Wisconsin Agency on Aging Resources, Inc. (GWAAR). The Wisconsin SMP can be reached toll-free at (888) 818-2611, or online at https://www.smpwi.org/.


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