5 Simple Strategies to Help Protect Yourself against Medicare FraudPosted by Medicare Made Clear
Medicare fraud can be big business for fraudsters and a big problem for taxpayers.
Stolen Medicare numbers may become valuable loot for criminals. The numbers can be used to bill Medicare for services and supplies that were never provided or received. The reimbursements are then pocketed.
Who pays? We all do. The more that is paid out in false claims, the less there may be to pay for legitimate health care needs. The result can be higher premiums and stricter rules around eligibility for supplies and services.
Follow these 5 tips to help you stay on your toes and avoid fraud, especially during Medicare Open Enrollment (Oct. 15 – Dec. 7) when fraud activity may increase.
Guard Your Medicare Card
Treat your Medicare card as you would your Social Security or credit card. Never give your Medicare number to a stranger over the phone. Do not give your card or number to anyone except your doctor or another authorized Medicare provider.
Beware Bogus Medicare Plans
Criminals may use Open Enrollment to entice you with phony plans, products and services. The real aim is to get your Medicare number. Check the Plan Finder at Medicare.gov to verify any plan you are considering. If it’s not there, it may not be legitimate.
Flee Fake Health Care Freebies
Just walk away if someone asks for your Medicare information in exchange for free medical services or products. If it’s free, they have no need for your insurance information. This may be another scam to get your Medicare number. (Keep in mind that a legitimate insurance agent or company representative will need your Medicare number if you choose to sign up for Medicare supplement plan, a Medicare Advantage plan or a Medicare prescription drug plan.)
Duck Deceptive Door-to-Door Salespeople
Do not accept medical supplies from a door-to-door salesperson. And remember that neither Medicare nor Medicaid sends representatives to people’s homes to sell products or services. In addition, insurance agents may not come to your home unless you have asked them to.
Scour Your Medicare Statements
Medicare or your private insurance provider sends you periodic statements detailing the health care you have received. Read them carefully. It’s important to verify that you received all the services and products that appear. Report anything that you suspect may be an error.
How to Report Fraud
The first thing to do when you suspect fraud is to check with your provider. It may be a simple mistake or misunderstanding.
If you still think that the charge to Medicare is for a service or supply you did not receive, then you can call the Medicare helpline to report it (1-800-MEDICARE or 1-800-633-4227, TTY 1-877-486-2048, 24 hours a day, seven days a week).
You can also call the Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) office in your state. SMP workers and volunteers can help you determine if you have been a victim of fraud. If you have, they will forward your complaint to government investigators. To find the Senior Medicare Patrol in your state, go to www.SMPresource.org.
Fraud activity can pick up during Open Enrollment (Oct. 15—Dec. 7). Protecting your Medicare and Social Security numbers is especially important during this time.
For more information, explore MedicareMadeClear.com or contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048.