Medicare beneficiaries are being targeted by scammers who seek to manipulate and abuse this government program. Shockingly, these efforts cost Medicare approximately 60 billion dollars a year.
“Medicare fraud has significant consequences,” says Wayne Vinson, Director of Sales at The Village at Gainesville. “It should be a concern for Medicare beneficiaries, health care providers and all taxpayers.”
The federal government is cracking down on these abuses of the system. Keep reading for some practical tips to protect yourself against Medicare fraud.
7 Tips To Avoid Medicare Scams
- Keep your Medicare number private.
Store your Medicare card in a safe spot and treat your number like you would a credit card or Social Security number. Do not hand your card over to anyone except your doctor or an authorized agent, and don’t give your number over the phone.
- Look out for fraudulent Medicare plans.
One strategy scammers use is to entice customers with phony plans. This scheme aims to get possession of your Medicare number so they can submit false claims. Before you sign onto any plan, look it up on the Plan Finder tool on medicare.gov.
- Beware of unsolicited salespeople or unscrupulous health professionals.
Medicare will never send door-to-door salespeople to sell you services or products. If you have a visitor claiming they’re from Medicare, the safest plan is to turn them away. Swindlers have been known to use high-pressure tactics like falsely claiming that if you don’t take their offer, Medicare will declare you ineligible. Also, be cautious of any health professionals who claim to know how to get Medicare to pay for an uninsured service or who offer you a bribe to use their products or services.
- Protect your medical information.
If someone asks for your medical records or recommends services to you, consult with your doctor first. Even if they call your house and their caller ID shows a Medicare number, do not give them access to your information.
- Be skeptical of anyone offering “free” health care services or products.
One common scam is calling Medicare beneficiaries with offers of free medical products like orthotic braces or COVID-19 tests. They’ll first ask you for your Medicare number and then charge Medicare thousands of dollars for a product that you never receive.
- Do not consent to unnecessary health services.
Disreputable clinics have been known to write false prescriptions, order extraneous tests or recommend unnecessary procedures in an effort to collect more money from Medicare. Only agree to receive medical care you actually need.
- Review and file away your Medicare Summary Notices (MSNs).
Look over your MSNs as soon as you receive them in the mail. If the services and dates aren’t correct, contact your medical provider right away. To keep closer tabs, sign up for electronic MSNs that are sent monthly rather than quarterly.
How To Report Medicare Fraud
As a Medicare beneficiary, you are protecting yourself as well as others when you report suspicious behavior or abuse of the Medicare program.
There are a few ways you can do this:
- Report claims of abuse online.
- Call the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227)
- Call 1-877-7SAFERX (1-877-772-3379) for claims related to Medicare Parts C or D.
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