These days it’s not just lottery scams you need to be aware of. People with Medicare coverage have become a favorite target of scammers, who may use their Medicare number without the beneficiary’s knowledge. If fraud occurs, both Medicare and the beneficiary may be billed for items that are neither necessary nor requested.
To fight fraud, it’s important to be vigilant to avoid paying unexpected/unnecessary bills. The Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) reminds beneficiaries to review each and every Medicare Summary Notice (MSN) they receive in the mail to ensure they’re not being billed for services or items they don’t need or their doctor didn’t request.
Lately, SMPs across the country have seen a significant uptick in brace scams. For instance, a beneficiary received six braces that he neither ordered nor needed from a medical equipment provider in Clearwater, FL. His Medicare statement showed the same date of service and the same supplier as the packing slip. The person listed as the ordering physician was an M.D. with whom the beneficiary had no prior relationship. An internet search showed that this M.D. had several offices, none of which were anywhere near the beneficiary, who resides in New Jersey.
The beneficiary received a brace for the left wrist, the right shoulder, a lumbar brace, braces for both knees and another for the lower extremity. Medicare was billed a total of $5,132.90. He returned all of the braces at the shipper’s expense, and Medicare reprocessed the claim and recouped all of the funds paid to the supplier.
One month later, a different medical equipment supplier sent a shipment of two ankle braces and a heel stabilizer to the same beneficiary. This time, the shipment was not accepted and was returned by the beneficiary.
Remember: it’s YOUR time and YOUR money on the line! You can significantly reduce the chances that you’ll be scammed by using and protecting your new Medicare card, which was developed using enhanced security protections. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Assistance (CMS) also offers these tips:
- Destroy your old Medicare card so no one can get your personal information.
- Start using your new Medicare card right away. Carry it when you need healthcare. Medicare coverage and benefits are the same. The new card does not impact or change your healthcare benefits.
- Keep your other plan cards. If you’re in a Medicare Advantage Plan (like an HMO or PPO) or a Medicare Drug Plan, keep using that plan ID card whenever you need care or prescriptions. However, please carry and protect your new Medicare card too, since you may be asked to show it.
- Protect your Medicare number just like a credit card. Only give the new Medicare number to doctors, pharmacists, other healthcare providers, insurers, or people you trust to work with Medicare on your behalf. Medicare will never call uninvited and ask you for your Medicare number or other personal information.
If you have questions, or for more information, call the Delaware SMP at 1-800-223-9074 or visit www.dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dss/smp.html