Medicare Care Fraud
Don’t Let It Happen To You
The woman could hardly believe her eyes. When reviewing her mentally ill son’s Medicare statement a few years ago, she noticed charges for more than 70 respiratory treatments at a California doctor’s office. The woman knew her son didn’t need such treatments and had no way of even getting to the doctor’s office. So she picked up the phone and called Medicare to complain.
Some common marketing/enrollment fraud schemes include:
- Posing as reps from government-approved private insurance companies, individuals are going door-to-door to convince seniors to hand over their Medicare numbers (which can include their Social Security numbers), birth dates, and other personal information. Then, they use the information to commit identity theft and other crimes.
- Individuals call to explain their “drug plan,” then ask for your credit card number so they can enroll you over the phone. Instead, they sell or use your credit card number to make illegal purchases.
- Someone tries to coerce you to enroll in the Medicare prescription drug program, claiming you’ll lose all of your Medicare benefits if you don’t participate. Then, they take and use your personal information.
How can you protect yourself from potential Medicare Part D scams?
- Be aware that you will NOT lose your Medicare benefits if you chose not to sign up for Medicare Part D. And signing up is free—you should never have to pay an application fee.
- Protect your Medicare number as you would your credit card information, mindful of identity theft.
- Know that private companies can’t enroll you into a drug plan or ask for payment over the phone. If you enroll over the Internet, the company must mail you a bill.
- Look for the “Medicare-Approved” seal on all insurance plan materials. If you don’t see it, the plans aren’t legit. (A list of approved plans is available on the Medicare web site.
Finally, if you think you’ve spotted—or been the victim of—a scam, report it as soon as possible by calling 1-800-MEDICARE. Or, call your local FBI office.
Photo courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.