The Medicare scammers are at it again. They steal Medicare numbers, and send tests to beneficiaries’ homes. They then bill the recipient for things the recipient never ordered. For those with aging parents, this scheme can work well, as some won’t remember if they ordered a test after Medicare stopped paying for these on May 11, 2023. At that time the Covid Health Emergency officially ended. Review your aging loved ones’ Medicare billing and Explanation of Benefits (EOB) carefully. They (0r
you) could be getting charged for those Covid tests by scammers. Don’t pay!
Most folks don’t go through the tedium of looking at every Medicare billing entry, what Medicare paid and didn’t cover and they are not looking for discrepancies. But the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns us that medical identity theft is something like overall ID theft. They have a person’s Medicare number and they find sneaky ways to charge you for something Medicare doesn’t cover at all now. Or the fraudsters work with dishonest providers and bill Medicare for treatment that never took place, medications that were not needed nor given, and for equipment that was not delivered. Scammers get the lucrative cooperation of shady doctors and others who all profit from Medicare billing for “uncovered” items on the billing that the Medicare recipient is asked to pay out of pocket. Unrequested Covid tests are just one example.
Medicare loses an estimated $60 billion each year due to fraud, errors, and abuse, including falsified billing. When someone steals a person’s Medicare number, it is difficult to track millions of billing entries and see the red flags. In the case of Covid tests, it is easy for someone to be fooled, as the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention reports that the summer is a time for a surge in Covid infections. Anyone might believe that Medicare is paying for more Covid testing and that would be why they got tests delivered to their home. Until they get the bill for those tests, that is. Be on the alert.
It is also important to report this kind of scam to the FTC. The government needs consumers’ help to stop these relentless thieves. They have a special reporting site anyone with a computer can access. They take reports on fake Medicare billing, theft of Medicare numbers and other fraud. It may feel as if getting billed for something you didn’t order is a small thing, but if hundreds of thousands of families report this, and it is possible for the government to get to the source, it is possible to stop the scammers.
The takeaway message for families with aging parents is this:
Pay attention to every Medicare billing, and Explanation of Benefits statements you/ your loved one receives. Look for discrepancies.
Do not pay for anything the aging parent did not order.