Medicare fraud is a serious problem that costs taxpayers billions of dollars each year, primarily through fraudulent billing practices. Senior citizens, who are already vulnerable to many other types of fraud, must also be vigilant against unscrupulous companies and even healthcare providers. Milwaukee senior care provider Home Care Assistance encourages family members and caregivers to share these 5 fraud-prevention tips with senior loved ones.
1. Protect your Medicare number.
Whether you are a Medicare beneficiary yourself or you are an in-home caregiver for someone else, you should guard a Medicare number the same way you guard a Social Security number. Remember that the Medicare number appears on the Medicare card itself. For that reason, you should never hand the card over to anyone except your doctor or other authorized Medicare provider.
2. Verify your Medicare statements against personal health records.
Routine checks of your Medicare statements are often the easiest way to confirm suspected fraud. You should maintain personal records of each health visit, including any tests or procedures that your provider performs. When you receive your Medicare statement, check that record against your own health records to ensure that only actual visits and procedures appear. You should be suspicious of any unfamiliar items or multiple entries for single tests.
3. Report suspicious activity immediately.
If you do see suspicious activity on your Medicare statement, report it immediately. If it turns out to be an innocent error, Medicare will take care of it for you. If, on the other hand, it proves to be fraudulent activity, you will be helping to protect the system for everyone else. You can report suspected fraud by calling 1-800-HHS-TIPS (1-800-447-8477).
4. Develop a healthy suspicion of people promising free services.
It should be a red flag for you if someone promises you free services or equipment. Fraudulent actors often entice victims with promises of free goods and services as a ruse to obtain their Medicare numbers. You should also be suspicious of someone who claims to know how to obtain Medicare coverage for otherwise non-covered expenses. The old adage holds true here: if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
5. Be wary of any salesmen or telemarketers.
Other popular Medicare fraud schemes involve door-to-door salesmen and telemarketers posing as Medicare representatives. Medicare does not send any sales representatives to private homes, so anyone claiming a Medicare affiliation should be dismissed and reported. Phone calls are often more confusing, particularly for senior citizens, who may be coaxed into revealing Medicare numbers. When in doubt, remember that only your doctor or other authorized Medicare provider should have access to your Medicare number.
While Medicare fraud is a serious and costly business, you can avoid it by following general fraud prevention tips. Although there are many people ready to take advantage of senior citizens, knowledge is your best weapon against these criminals.
Learn more about senior health, wellness, and safety from the experienced staff at Home Care Assistance. As a leading provider of hourly and live-in home care in Milwaukee, helping seniors maintain a high quality of living in the comfort of home is our top priority. Call us today at (414) 964-8000 to learn more about our senior care services or to schedule a complimentary in-home consultation.