Missouri SMP publishes March fraud prevention fact

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The Missouri SMP is publishing monthly Fraud Prevention Facts to remind people of the most recent scams and the ways to protect themselves against them. Here is the March 2016 Fraud fact.

Why does Medicare keep calling?

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The Missouri SMP receives several complaints a week just like this one:

“I just received a call today from the Medicare Diabetic Supply Company (an 800 number that was blocked out on caller ID), asking about my diabetes supplies.  (I don’t have diabetes nor does anyone else in my household.)  She asked if I had a red, white, and blue Medicare card.  I said yes, and she said she would have someone call me to arrange delivery of free supplies.  This is a waste of our tax dollars.  I asked for the phone number of the company and she declined but said someone would call me.”

Sometimes the reports vary slightly, and the name of the company has been changed, but the story remains the same – telemarketers are calling seniors, representing themselves as Medicare and trying to get personal information such as Medicare numbers and bank account information by offering unnecessary medical supplies.

In order to keep your information safe and be able to access the services and supplies you need, keep in mind the following:

  • Suppliers are prohibited from making unsolicited phone calls, emails, and personal visits to Medicare beneficiaries unless:
    • The beneficiary has given written permission.
    • The supplier has furnished an item to the beneficiary.
  • If you make a call to order supplies or ask about a service, it is ok to give your account information – you placed the call.  However, if the call was made to you, do not provide your information.  Medicare, your bank, your insurance company, and your medical providers have your information and are not allowed to call you and ask for it.
  • It is best to get a prescription from your doctor before receiving any medical supplies or services and to only receive services ordered by your doctor.

If you feel that you have given your information in error or if you have additional questions, please call the Missouri SMP (Senior Medicare Patrol) toll-free at 1-888-515-6565.  SMP Volunteers have been trained and are available to assist you with questions and concerns regarding Medicare and Medicaid fraud and abuse at no cost to you.

New Alert System Scheme Targets Seniors

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“Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” is a well known phrase that we have heard over and over on the radio and television that advertises an alert product for seniors living alone.  This product can most certainly be a life saver, but it is also easy for schemers to market sound alike products that are actually a bad deal.

Recently, a new scheme targeting seniors has come to light that appears to be a ruse to possible Medicare fraud.  The senior receives a phone call about an alert system that is free for six months, and then it is only $10 a month.  Sounds like a good deal and it certainly beats out the well known national competitor, but with all things too good to be true, is it a real deal?  How does it work?

First, they want to send someone to your home to discuss the system with you.  Then at the appointment, they turn the tables and want to provide you a back brace and a knee brace that will be “free” from Medicare. “This is a good example of how someone can steal money from the Medicare system,” states Barbara Parrott McGinity, Program Director for the Texas Senior Medicare Patrol.  “They offer a simple item, tell you we will get your doctor to approve it, and since Medicare pays for it, why not get it?”

Prior to receiving medical supplies or services, you should have a discussion with your physician about what is best for you.

What can you do to protect yourself and your Medicare benefits?

If you really think you are interested in receiving a service, you should talk to a reputable supplier in your area.  Be very cautious about allowing uninvited salespersons into your home. It might be a good idea to invite a trusted family member or friend to be with you during a sales presentation.  More importantly, please call the Missouri SMP (Senior Medicare Patrol) at 1-888-515-6565 with any questions or concerns.

This website was supported in part by a grant No. 90-SP-0025 from the Administration on Aging (AoA), Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Grantees carrying out projects under government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Therefore, points of view or opinions do not necessarily represent official AoA, ACL, or DHHS policy.