The week of June 5 marks Medicare Fraud Prevention Week. Seniors and their caregivers should be aware of the risks posed by Medicare scams and how to avoid falling victim to this type of fraud.
Each year, Medicare loses tens of billions of dollars to abuse and errors. Older adults who receive Medicare may be subject to this type of fraud perpetrated by identity thieves, scammers, and deceitful healthcare providers.
Safeguard Yourself From Medicare Scams
To start, there are several easy ways for you to lower your risk of being scammed in the first place.
- Don’t share your Medicare number over the phone.
- Have your Medicare card with you only when necessary. Otherwise, leave it at home. (Think of it like a Social Security or credit card and protect it similarly.)
- Be aware that Medicare representatives will never come to your residence uninvited. They also will not call you out of the blue to verify your information or to offer free or low-cost equipment, such as a back or knee brace.
- Hold onto your receipts and bills from past medical appointments to compare them to your Medicare statements.
- Always look through your Medicare Summary Notices when you receive them. Keep an eye out for any errors or discrepancies regarding services, tests, or medical supplies you did not receive or were charged for more than once. You can call your health care provider and ask them to explain a charge, and if necessary, you have the right to dispute wrong charges.
Why Do I Need to Report Medicare Fraud?
Medicare abuse is far from victimless. Reporting fraud to the proper authorities is crucial to help stop it.
If someone steals your Medicare card or number, you could receive bills for health services you did not receive or become a victim of identity theft.
A healthcare provider who may be fraudulently charging you for services can spell trouble for more than your wallet. A dishonest provider could be misdiagnosing you or even subject you to treatments or services you do not need, or that could negatively impact your health. Sometimes, billing errors are made by accident, but if your provider makes these mistakes frequently, it may signal a potential case of fraud.
Ultimately, unchecked fraud can lead to higher Medicare costs for you as the consumer.
What to Do If You Suspect Medicare Abuse
There are several options for reporting incidents that you suspect may constitute Medicare fraud:
- Call the Office of Inspector General hotline at 1-800-HHS-TIPS or file your complaint online.
- Call 1-800-MEDICARE to report suspected abuse by a Medicare provider.
- In addition, each state (and the District of Columbia) has a dedicated Senior Medicare Patrol or SMP. This service can monitor your Medicare account for fraud and TBD. Search online for your local SMP.
We are equipped to help protect you from abuse. Contact us today.
This article is for informational purposes only and shall not be construed as legal advice. No attorney-client relationship between the reader and Brennan & Rogers, PLLC, or its attorneys is intended. This article should not be used as a substitute for legal advice. Laws may vary from state to state, and the educational materials found in this article may not apply in all jurisdictions. Brennan & Rogers, PLLC | 279 York Street, York, ME 03909 | 207-361-4680 | email@example.com