Helping You Watch for and Avoid Medicare Scams
It’s estimated that the Medicare program and Medicare beneficiaries nationwide lose between $60 and $90 billion each year to healthcare fraud and scams. People in Jefferson County are no exception. Unscrupulous individuals are always looking for ways to take advantage of others.
But United Way’s Area Agency on Aging (UWAAA) has implemented a new program to spread the word about Medicare scams and deceptive business practices, and teach consumers how to spot them and avoid becoming victims. The program is called Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) and is part of a national network of volunteer and community outreach efforts dedicated to empowering seniors to prevent healthcare fraud.
Our SMP staff and volunteers work with individuals to review their Medicare Summary Notices for accuracy, make presentations to groups, exhibit at community health fairs, and serve as advocates to local, state and federal officials. The primary goal, however, is to teach Medicare beneficiaries how to protect their personal identity, recognize and report errors on healthcare bills and identify deceptive healthcare practices, such as illegal marketing, providing unnecessary services and charging for services that were never provided.
Common Healthcare Scams that Affect Beneficiaries:
- Services Not Provided – beneficiaries are billed for services never received or healthcare providers change billing codes or submit fake claims
- Medical Equipment Fraud – equipment manufacturers may offer “free” products or waive required co-payments or deductibles in exchange for a Medicare number
- Free Health Screenings – a vendor offers to provide “free” health care screenings, lab tests or other services but asks for a person’s Medicare number
- Insurance Bait & Switch or Cross-selling – licensed agents present information about a Medicare Advantage plan, describing benefits and services that the plan doesn’t actually offer, and then sign people up for a plan that isn’t right for them
- Counterfeit Prescription Drugs – beneficiaries purchase medication over the internet to save money, but the drugs they receive are not the right medication or the right dosage
- Medical Identity Theft – occurring when someone uses a person’s Social Security number or Medicare number, date of birth, credit card number or other personal information, which may have been obtained by asking for it at an event or over the phone, or stealing information from a wallet or the trash
Call 1-800-AGE-LINE (1-800-243-5463) to learn more about Senior Medicare Patrol, as well as SMP volunteer opportunities, at United Way Area Agency on Aging or click here for more information on the national SMP program.