Experts estimate that about $60 billion is lost annually due to Medicare fraud.
Consumers do not have to be Medicare beneficiaries to be affected by the high cost of fraud. Costs are passed down to all Americans in the form of increased insurance premiums, higher medical care outlays and inflated price tags on medical equipment.
Since Medicare fraud can affect any senior, it is beneficial to be proactive about preventing it. If any questions arise, you can call us to discuss a concern you may have about a potential fraud or scam. We may be able to refer policyholders to online or local events that help educate seniors and other consumers about in-depth topics surrounding Medicare fraud.
That said, there are several ways you can protect yourself from Medicare fraud now:
1. Protect your personal information – Since many Medicare fraud schemes are designed to take money from Medicare or the beneficiary, criminals need access to personally identifiable information to succeed. Any documents with a policy number, name, address, birth date or Social Security number should be kept in a safe place or shredded when acceptable.
2. Don’t give out your Social Security number – A physician’s office should have this information and would never call to request it. The same goes for Medicare, who have the information and would never ask you to confirm your number by reading it out to them.
Avoid working with medical supply companies that ask for this information. If anyone claims to be from an insurance company and asks for this bit of information, do not provide it. Medicare has a hotline where you can report this kind of behavior.
Also, don’t write your Social Security number on checks you mail for insurance payments.
3. Don’t always carry your Medicare card – Avoid carrying a Medicare card while running errands or going out for other than medical reasons. If a purse or wallet is lost or stolen, the information may be misused by whoever finds it. It is better to use an “In Case of Emergency” card.
4. Check your Medicare statements regularly – Look at the Medicare Summary Notices section to see if any charges listed are correct. For any charges that do not look familiar or seem unclear, contact us immediately.
Look for duplicate payments of any services. If there are services or pieces of equipment that were not received, notify us. Equipment will never be ordered or approved without consent from a personal physician.
If any equipment is listed on the bill that was not received or prescribed, contact the doctor’s office to report it. There may be a clerical error on their part. However, it could be a fraud attempt. Remember that even physicians or their staff may attempt to commit fraud.
An overpayment by Medicare or a supplemental insurance company may happen from time to time. If one is noted, report it immediately.
Fraud schemes are always a risk for seniors. For more information about this topic and for additional tips about identifying or reporting Medicare fraud, call us to discuss concerns you may have.