Look Out for These Medicare Scams

February 21, 2012
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Beware Medicare Scammers
The web site Medical Billing and Coding has published Medicare Scams that you should be on the lookout for.

The Poser Scam

One of the more common ways criminals scam those with Medicare is by posing as Medicare employees, health care practitioners, or insurance representatives, something many may not be expecting. These fraudsters call, email, or send a letter asking for personal information that usually includes bank, Social Security, and Medicare numbers. Federal employees, working for Medicare or otherwise, will never phone or email you to get bank or Medicare information.  
Many adults don’t know what the new healthcare legislation actually entrails, and that’s just the way criminals want it. It makes many Americans easy targets for scams, like those that claim to sell “healthcare reform insurance” that purportedly protects seniors from any losses to their Medicare or any fines they make incur from not meeting guidelines. The thing is, healthcare reform insurance doesn’t exist.  
Scammers in low income areas are taking advantage of some of the neediest Medicare recipients by drawing them in to fake health care clinics with the promise of free food or gifts. Once they have the victim right where they want them, they try to get Medicare numbers through coercion and then use them to commit Medicare fraud.
Fraudsters might offer you a cut of the take in exchange for your Medicare number, but they won’t put it like that. Criminals might veil it under a prize, reward, or other guise to mask the fact that they’re doing something that is very clearly illegal. If anyone ever promises you any gift or monetary rewards for your Medicare number, decline their offer immediately.  
As part of the Affordable Care Act, many senior Medicare recipients may be eligible to receive a refund from the government of $250 to help cover their prescription drug costs. Criminals have pounced on these checks as an opportunity to make some extra cash and scam some Medicare numbers at the same time. Many have called seniors and told them that they need to confirm Medicare numbers in order to send out the checks. Keep in mind that Medicare numbers are like credit card numbers: they should never be given out to strangers over the phone.
 
Many criminals looking to scam those on Medicare will call or even come to the home of recipients asking for personal information like Medicare numbers and bank accounts. Medicare will not send people out to collect this information, nor do they cooperate with private insurers to collect this information.  
Exchanging medical supplies, which are usually of very low value, for Medicare numbers is not a bargain, it’s a scam. Criminals know that many seniors depend on medical supplies to keep them feeling good, and use that desire for backup or extra supplies, free of charge, to get personal and private information out of those who wouldn’t normally be swayed by such scams.  
If something isn’t covered by Medicare, it isn’t covered. If your provider or someone you don’t know tells you that an item isn’t covered but they know how to bill it so you won’t have to pay, that might sound great. But it’s also fraud and can get you, and that provider, in a lot of trouble. 
Those with diabetes, arthritis, and sleep problems are frequent victims of this scam. Salespeople will go to homes of those they know suffer from these conditions and try to get them to buy extra equipment, often things that they really don’t need. It sounds great because these extra items can be billed to Medicare and you won’t have to pay a thing. Of course, once you hand over your Medicare numbers, scammers simply use it to rack up loads of bogus charges and if you ever see the equipment they promised it’ll likely end up collecting dust.
 
Another way scammers are taking advantage of new health care regulations is by telling seniors that in order to keep receiving benefits or get their refund checks they’ll need to get a new Medicare card. This simply isn’t true.
 
Some enterprising and highly unscrupulous insurance agents have been taking advantage of Medicare policy holders in a couple of different ways. Some are sending out release forms that allow agents to make decisions on their behalf. This can cause serious legal and financial issues, so never, ever sign anything without reading through it first and making sure you understand it. 
Shady doctors and nurses often make their money by scaring or coercing patients into getting unnecessary and often very expensive tests. Your medical provider should never use pressure or scare tactics to get you to consent to any medical decision, it’s just unethical.

Thanks to the Billing and Coding site for this information. Hopefully we can get it to a wider audience who will heed the warnings.

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