From its sudden effect on beneficiaries to increasing Medicare costs, Medicare fraud can cause a lot of problems. It’s important to be aware of this very real threat and what you can do to avoid becoming a victim.
What is Medicare Fraud?
There are many types of Medicare fraud, but the main goal of them all is to collect money from the Medicare program illegitimately. For example, one kind of Medicare fraud is when someone knowingly bills the Medicare system for a service or supply that the beneficiary didn’t get. Anyone can commit or be involved in fraud, including doctors, other providers, and beneficiaries, so it’s important to stay diligent and alert. To help crack down on fraud, it’s key to report any suspected Medicare fraud immediately by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).
Tips for Protecting Yourself
To avoid becoming a victim of a scam or fraud, it’s vital to protect yourself. Here are a few tips on what you can do:
Keep Your Medicare Card in a Safe Spot
Your Medicare card has important information on it, including your identification number, full name, birthday, and coverage. If someone asks to see it and they aren’t your physician, it’s best not to show it to them. Letting others have access to that information could lead to them stealing your identity and committing Medicare fraud.
Treat your card and Medicare number like your SSN or bank account information. Only give it to trusted sources, like your primary physician, people they refer you to, and Medicare officials.
Keep Track of Appointment & Service Receipts
When you visit the doctor or fill a prescription, make sure to keep an invoice or receipt of the services you received. The receipt will document what you received, the date and time you received it, and how much you paid. If the provider doesn’t offer one, or worse, declines and makes up excuses for not giving you one, that’s a red flag. This paper trail will help you to double-check dates, services, and other details you received with statements you get from Medicare.
Don’t Give Any Private Info Over the Phone or Email
Never give your private information, like your SSN, Medicare ID, bank account information, or medical records over the phone or email. Common scams will ask you for your SSN or Medicare number and your credit card number. If asked for this information from a stranger, hang up the phone or delete the email. If the situation sounds dire (i.e. they need an immediate payment or your coverage will be dropped), ask them to confirm multiple levels of information they should know about you, like your full name and your birthday.
It’s important to remember that Medicare will never contact you for your Medicare number or other personal information unless you give them permission in advance. They will also never call you to sell you anything and never visit you at your home.
Be Wary of Free Health Services
Don’t believe any claims of free health services. If someone is offering free services and needs your Medicare information, be aware. They may plan on charging Medicare for the health services. If you participate, this is considered fraud, and you could be held accountable even if you participated unwittingly. Another common scam is a caller will offer free durable medical equipment or a medical checkup at no cost to you because “Medicare will cover it.” The only catch is they need your private information to get everything set up for you. As mentioned above, never give out your private info, and if someone is offering free services to you, decline them.
Let’s Keep You Safe
Understanding what to expect from Medicare will make it easier to identify suspicious behavior and help you to avoid scams. To help you understand Medicare and your coverage plan, contact us at Signature Senior Solutions. We are always here to help! Signature Senior Solutions is located in Cave Creek, and services all of Maricopa County and Arizona. If you’re out of state, don’t worry, we have a multi-state license and can serve you too.