MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) – This week is Medicare Fraud Prevention Week, an important time period that could save you money, whether you’re on Medicare or not.
Fraud costs Medicare an estimated $60 billion per year. It costs Medicare beneficiaries time, stress, their medical identities, and potentially their health. It costs families, friends, and caregivers worry and lost work when helping their loved ones recover from falling victim to Medicare fraud.
“We teach people how to avoid experiencing Medicare fraud.” said Sherry Moffett, Senior Medicare Patrol program coordinator at Central Alabama Aging Consortium, “By preventing fraud from happening, this program helps individuals and protects the Medicare program for generations to come.”
The Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) has a mission to protect from Medicare fraud, errors, and abuse; detect potential fraud, errors, and abuse; and report concerns. The SMP helps educate and empower Medicare beneficiaries in the fight against health care fraud. The SMP can help with questions, concerns, or complaints about potential fraud and abuse issues. It also provides information and educational presentations.
Everyone plays a part in the fight against fraud. During Medicare Fraud Prevention Week:
- Medicare beneficiaries can monitor their insurance statements to ensure products and services received match what is on the statements. They can request free My Health Care Trackers from their local SMP.
- Caregivers can help by looking for items such as durable medical equipment (like boxes of knee braces) lying around the house that may have been shipped to the beneficiary without their or their doctor’s approval. They can remind their client or loved ones never to give out their Medicare number or other personal information over the phone.
- Families can help by talking to their loved ones about protecting their Medicare number just as they would a credit card number. They can help their loved ones create a Medicare.gov account to access their Medicare statements online or remind them to open and review them when they come in the mail. They can also register their phone number on “do not call” lists and go to optoutprescreen.com to opt-out of mailings.
- Partners and professionals can help by sharing SMP information on social media, referring clients and consumers to the SMP, and inviting the SMP to speak during a shared event.
- Health care providers can help by talking to patients about healthcare-related scams such as durable medical equipment and genetic testing schemes. They can remind them that products and services should only be ordered by physicians they regularly see. Needed medical items should never be ordered through TV ads or unsolicited calls.
- Community members can help by looking out for older neighbors. When in public, they can be aware of older individuals purchasing gift cards in large amounts. They can encourage those they know to talk to a trusted source about their Medicare questions and tell neighbors about the most recent Medicare scams. They can even consider volunteering with the local SMP!
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