Avoiding Medicare Scams
Avoiding Medicare Scams
As you approach Medicare eligibility or start to enjoy your benefits, it’s important to be aware of fraudulent practices and scams that can target seniors and individuals receiving Medicare due to a disability. The Medicare population can be vulnerable, and it’s important to be aware of suspicious activity and to protect your private information. Understanding your rights and knowing what a supplier, carrier, or provider can and cannot so will help.
When you first become eligible for Medicare, it can be challenging to determine what information you should give and what you can expect from providers, doctors, suppliers, or insurance agents. If you have approached a Medicare insurance plan, and contacted them directly, you can be more comfortable with sharing the information necessary to choose and enroll in the plan that will be best for you. No one should show up at your door or call you under the guise of representing Medicare or the federal government. Door to door selling techniques are prohibited, and you should not give any personal information to someone who arrives without an invitation from you. You should never give out your Medicare ID Card number to anyone who calls you or solicits information over the Internet.
Once you are enrolled in Medicare, it is important to be suspicious if any of the following occurs:
- You are asked for your Medicare ID number in exchange for free services or supplies
- A sales agent uses scare tactics or coercion to sell you a product or service
- Non-medical or housekeeping is offered to you as Medicare-approved services
- You are told that the more tests you agree to, the cheaper they will be
Fraudulent billing practices can include providers or suppliers billing Medicare for things you never received or qualify for, including wheelchairs, scooters, or medical equipment. It is important to keep a close eye on all medical bills to avoid any chance of being taken advantage of. Keep records of your doctor visits, tests, procedures, and supplies needed and report any instances of fraud.
Medicare beneficiaries can be targets for identity theft, as well. In addition to your Medicare ID Card number, you should not share your Social Security, Medicaid, or credit card numbers with anyone who approaches you over the phone, Internet, or in person without an invitation.
Technology and innovation have brought us a long way in the ease and accessibility to Medicare options and enrollment, but unfortunately, these tools can also be exploited for less-than-honorable purposes. Staying aware of common scams can help, but being proactive about your own personal security is the best plan to avoid being a victim of theft or fraud.