Medicare is a great base system for insuring yourself or a senior citizen in your family. The benefits of Medicare include inpatient and outpatient insurance and prescription drug coverage, but with all bureaucratic systems there are risks that come with it.
At the top of the list is Medicare fraud. Medicare patients have suffered numerous fraudulent files and payments, which costs taxpayers $60-90 billion per year. The majority of Medicare suppliers are honest, trustworthy providers, and Medicare has taken aggressive steps to combat the problem. But you must be careful and take precautions to protect yourself or your loved ones on Medicare.
Protect your information
Treat your Medicare account information like you do your financial accounts. If asked over the phone, or randomly in public for your Medicare number, social security number, or other privacy information, do not give it out. Even if offered discounts or free goods, giving out these numbers is the quickest way to be taken advantage of. Be sure to never fill out your information on a document or sheet without first completely reading and understanding it, and make sure it is a legitimate necessity for the coverage.
Medicare representatives will never make telemarketing calls, go door-to-door, take random surveys, or solicit services in public. While they can be very convincing, remember they are costing you money, and turn them in immediately.
Discuss potential problems
When you read about fraud, or hear of a new scam against seniors, tell your loved one immediately. Talk about different scenarios, and things they might say either on the phone or in person. In some cases you may need to repeat warnings again and again, but the important thing is your loved one is safe and understands how to deal with different situations.
There is a Medicare hotline that should be called right away if a Medicare card is lost or stolen, or if you or your loved one falls victim to fraud.
Because most account information is online, it’s easy for you to check up on your loved one, and keep them safe. Login to credit card information periodically to make sure large or continual payments aren’t being made to unknown sources. Check with phone company records to verify your loved one isn’t receiving calls from potentially harmful companies.
Also review your loved one’s Medicare Summary Notice and make sure that everything listed is valid. Mistakes can be made, but if they cannot be explained by your physician or provider, contact Medicare directly by phone or letter. After a series of questions, they will be able to review the claim and take further action.