(BPT) - Every year, many seniors are targeted by scammers who want to steal their Medicare numbers to do things like rack up fake health care charges and commit identity theft. These scams hurt seniors and other people eligible for Medicare, cost taxpayers money, and result in higher health care costs for everyone. The good news is that you can protect yourself from fraud and help Medicare stop scammers in their tracks.
How to Spot Medicare Fraud
The first step in protecting yourself from Medicare fraud is knowing how to spot it. Over time, scammers have become very sophisticated and advanced. One of the latest scams you should look out for concerns genetic testing. Scammers are offering “free” genetic tests and claiming Medicare will cover it — so they can get your Medicare number and use it to commit fraud and identity theft. Other Medicare scams include offers for free or reduced-price medical equipment, consultations, or health services. These scams can happen anywhere, including through telemarketing calls, health fairs, and even knocking on doors.
Last year, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) removed Social Security numbers from all Medicare cards. Even with this change, people with Medicare should still guard their Medicare card and treat it like a credit card, check Medicare claims summary forms for errors, and be wary of any unsolicited requests for your Medicare number. Medicare will never call beneficiaries to ask for or check Medicare numbers.
To protect yourself from Medicare fraud, keep these things to “do” and “don’t do” in mind:
Reporting Medicare Fraud
If you think you may have spotted fraud, you should report it right away. No matter how minimal the information you share is, it could be the missing piece to stopping the next fraud scheme. If you are a victim of fraud, know that you won’t be penalized or lose your coverage for reporting it. Even if you are not a victim, it’s important to report any fraud scams you encounter to Medicare. Report suspected fraud by calling 1-800-MEDICARE or online through the Office of the Inspector General.
Information provided by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
Every day, Medicare fraud affects people with Medicare and their families across the U.S. – regardless of background – robbing them of hard-earned money and peace of mind. By remembering some simple but effective tips, you can protect yourself against scams, including identity theft and prescription drug fraud.
3 Steps to Protect Yourself from Medicare Fraud
Scammers know the ins and outs of the Medicare system and their attempts can be well thought-out enough that it’s not always easy to know when and where fraud is occurring. By remembering some simple but effective tips, you can protect yourself against scams, including identity theft and prescription drug fraud. Remembering to protect, detect and report fraud helps everyone, including you.
Protecting your personal information is your best line of defense against health care fraud. Treat Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security numbers like credit card numbers. Never give them to a stranger and don’t carry your cards unless you need them for appointments. Medicare doesn’t call or visit to sell you anything. Outside of a trusted health care setting, never give this information to anyone who asks for it.
No matter how careful you are, you may be targeted for fraud. Always review your Medicare statements closely. Things to look for include charges for something you didn’t purchase or receive, duplicate charges and charges for services not ordered by your doctor. Compare these documents to your personal records and receipts. Recording medical visits and procedures in a journal or on a calendar can help you keep track of what happened at each appointment and make it easier to spot inaccuracies.
If you suspect you’ve been a target of fraud, report it. This can help you and others at risk for fraud. If you have questions about your Medicare statements, call your health care provider.
If you’re uncomfortable calling or are not satisfied with the response, help is available through your local Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP). SMP volunteers work with Medicare beneficiaries and their families and caregivers to stop health care fraud, errors and abuse. You can also report suspicious calls and direct general questions through this resource. You can find your local SMP program by calling 1-877-808-2468 or at SMPresource.org.
Suspected fraud can also be reported to 1-800-Medicare or by calling 1-800-HHS-TIPS.
Don’t hesitate if you need help
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Administration for Community Living
Many seniors are finding their medical expenses exceed what they anticipated when planning for retirement. Whether living a longer, healthier life than anticipated, dealing with a critical illness or paying for ongoing treatment for various ailments, the costs associated with medical care can add up. To help manage your assets in a way that allows you to deal with mounting health care costs, try one of these solutions.
How to Deal with Rising Health Care Costs
(Family Features) Many seniors are finding their medical expenses exceed what they anticipated when planning for retirement. Maximizing the value of available assets can be one of the ways to significantly ease a stressed budget.
Whether living a longer, healthier life than anticipated, dealing with a critical illness or paying for ongoing treatment for various ailments, the costs associated with medical care can add up. If you or a loved one is facing this challenge, it may be time to explore alternatives that allow you to continue to cover your expenses while easing the burden on your bank account.
Consider this story about a woman who sold her $500,000 term policy to pay her medical bills and cover future treatment costs. After her husband passed away, she was having trouble meeting her life insurance premium payments. Years later, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and was struggling to meet the cost of her ongoing treatment. She tried to apply for an accelerated death benefit, but didn’t qualify due to her state’s regulations. That’s when she contacted Coventry Direct to explore the option of selling her policy.
One of these solutions may help manage your assets in a way that allows you to deal with mounting health care costs:
Cut costs where you can. Ask your doctor to periodically review your medications to determine whether there are any you can eliminate, either due to improved condition or because other, newer prescriptions make them redundant. Also, talk with your doctor and pharmacist to ensure you are able to fill generic prescriptions when possible for added savings.
Take stock of your financial resources. Obvious assets such as a bank account or home can be leveraged for your financial benefit, but don’t overlook other potential resources, such as a life insurance policy. Many people are not aware that life insurance is personal property, has value and can be sold. Selling your life insurance policy, which is known as a life settlement, may result in an immediate cash payment. A company like Coventry Direct can help you determine whether a life settlement might allow you to sell your policy to help cover immediate needs or relieve the pressure of mounting medical debt.
Be a smart shopper. Shopping around for the best prices may take time, but it can also help you keep more of your money. For example, when it comes to special treatments and procedures, ask for a detailed explanation of charges ahead of time and compare outpatient facilities to hospitals to find the most affordable option.
Seek supplemental coverage. If out-of-pocket expenses are eating away at your savings account and you qualify for Medicare, consider purchasing supplemental coverage. You may find that the monthly premiums are more affordable than the costs you rack up with each new visit or prescription refill.
Managing your medical costs can feel like an overwhelming task, but there are steps you can take, including tapping into your financial assets, that can ease stress and allow you to focus more energy on managing your health and happiness.
To learn more about your options and whether a life settlement is right for you, visit coventrydirect.com/lifesettlements or call 888-858-9344.
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