Weiss Ratings News Briefs


Beware of Medicare Scams

11/29/2012

Nothing is safe from scammers these days including Medicare. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning consumers to be wary of callers claiming to be with Medicare and asking for personal information like social security and bank account numbers. Some seniors have reported receiving calls offering “free” items such as diabetic supplies or claiming “all seniors are getting a new Medicare card,” and for verification purposes, they ask for personal financial information.

“Consumers should be suspicious of unsolicited calls from anyone claiming to be from Medicare,” said Kim States, BBB President. Medicare will generally not make unsolicited calls to update information, issue a new card or offer free medical equipment. We recommend seniors hang up and call a trusted Medicare number if they have questions regarding their benefits.”

BBB warns that callers may have information from public databases that make the call seem legitimate. The BBB offers the following tips for safeguarding personal information and protecting against Medicare scams:

  • • Medicare, Medicaid and the Social Security Administration will not call to update information or issue a new card. If you receive a call, hang up and report it to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
  • • Medicare related scams usually involve some form of identity theft. Do not give out personal information to unknown callers.
  • • If you aren’t sure a call is legitimate, hang up and verify by calling the agency or checking with the BBB.
  • • Be suspicious of any door-to-door or telephone solicitations claiming to be affiliated with Medicare.
  • • Be wary of anyone offering you something for “free” in exchange for your Medicare number. Remember, Medicare will not pay for medical equipment without a physician’s signature certifying that it is necessary.
  • • Review medical bills, Medicare Summary notices and insurance Explanation of Benefits for medical equipment or service charges that you did not incur. If you find questionable charges, contact your health provider immediately.
  • • Only give your insurance/Medicare information to those who have provided you with medical services.
  • • Keep accurate records of medical appointments, procedures and medical equipment.
  • • Ask your medical provider what they will charge and how much you’ll have to pay out-of-pocket.
  • • Never sign blank Medicare insurance forms.
  • • Ensure your provider is approved by Medicare by contacting them directly at 1-800-633-4227.

To report suspected Medicare fraud, contact the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office of Inspector General at oig.hhs.gov or call 1-800-447-8477.

To help retirees understand Medicare, Medicare Advantage, Medicare supplements, and prescription drug coverage, see Weiss’ Medicare Power Planner. The interactive tool guides consumers through a series of questions that will help determine the best possible plan for the coverage they need at the lowest possible price. The Medicare Power Planner explains who qualifies for Medicare, the types of plans available and how seniors can best select what they need for comprehensive healthcare coverage.