How to Prevent Medicare Fraud

By Eric Gonzalez ~

Health care has been in the news over the past few years. First the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, then efforts to repeal it, now efforts to undercut it. It is fair to say that healthcare news is often contradictory and confusing. Unfortunately, scammers are taking advantage of this confusion to defraud seniors with respect to Medicare. There are a lot of scams out there, but fortunately, it is easy to avoid them once you know a few handy tricks. Here are six tips that are great ways to avoid common Medicare fraud scams. 

Don’t disclose your Medicare Number to strangers

Scammers often take advantage of seniors by offering free or reduced-price services in exchange for Medicare numbers. The best way to avoid this type of scam is to refuse to disclose your Medicare number to anyone other than a trusted health care provider. This includes anyone calling out of the blue claiming to be from Medicare, even if the number shows a legitimate Medicare phone number. Scammers often spoof the phone number of a legitimate Medicare number to mask their location.

Don’t accept offers for services claimed to be paid by Medicare

Scammers often offer services that they claim will be paid by Medicare to get financial information from you. The reality is that these scammers will use your information to scam you or Medicare out of money. Don’t accept these offers. Medicare will never call to sell you anything. Medicare also won’t come to your house for any reason. Medicare also won’t call you to ask you for any personal information unless you gave them permission to do so in advance.

Don’t fall for high pressure sales tactics

Scammers often use high pressure sales tactics to override your logical responses and to get you to rely on emotions such as fear. These tactics include, but are not limited to, threatening to declare you ineligible for Medicare if you don’t accept their offers. Don’t fall for these tactics. They are designed to scare you into making a hasty decision that you will regret later. Instead, decline these offers and report the suspicious behavior to Medicare. 

Do keep records of all services received

Scammers often bill Medicare for services that you didn’t receive in order to make a quick buck. This ultimately causes you to pay more for health care and to pay higher taxes. The best way to avoid this outcome is to keep records of all services received. This includes dates of doctors’ appointments and services received, as well as receipts and statements detailing the services received. If you keep these records, you will be able to compare them to your Medicare Service Notices when you receive them. 

Do check your Medicare Service Notices (MSN) as soon as you receive them

Your MSN will detail all bills for services submitted to Medicare on your behalf. It will also note services billed to Medicare you didn’t receive. Examining your MSN to verify that it matches your records will allow you to make sure that you or Medicare aren’t being billed for fraudulent claims. If you do see a bill for services you didn’t receive, report it to your health care provider immediately. If you suspect fraud, call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) to report it. 

Consider signing up for electronic Medicare Service Notices (eMSNs)

Signing up for eMSNs is a great way to keep a closer tab on your Medicare account to avoid fraudulent schemes. This is because Medicare sends eMSNs to beneficiaries monthly, whereas it only sends out paper statements four times a year. If you receive eMSNs, you will be able to report suspicious activity earlier, which will increase the likelihood of catching the perpetrators. 

So, there you have it. Six ways to avoid commonly perpetrated Medicare scams. Hopefully, you won’t have to use these tactics, but it pays to be prepared. And if you suspect that you have encountered Medicare fraud, don’t be afraid to speak to someone about it.