Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Disclosing Medicare number can lead to fraud

Phone calls offering a free cancer screening are most likely to be a scam, AARP Bulletin details


That was the intriguing first word of a headline in a yellowed AARP Bulletin, a copy of which I just dug out of a manila folder that had literally fallen between the cracks of my Shelter-in-Place home-office desk.

The entire headline: "Beware of Offers for a Free Cancer Screening."

A subhead tells even more: "Crooks may be fishing for your data so they can commit Medicare fraud."

Rebecca Kinney
The story, by Katherine Skiba, tells of people tricking folks into giving up their 11-digit Medicare numbers so they can create fraudulent claims, "part of the estimated $60 billion that is lost to waste and fraud each year." 

Skiba's piece quotes Rebecca Kinney, acting director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services office that trains volunteers to recognize and report such fraud, as saying that they've "seen several cases where Medicare has been billed anywhere from $6,000 to — in one case — $30,000" for unnecessary DNA tests.

Kinney adds that the "tests are being marketed to them as free without the understanding that Medicare will be billed" — and that people realize they've been duped only when charges show up on their Medicare statements.

Beware, says the HHS' Office of Inspector General of the scams, which have been continuing.

More information about medical fraud can be found in "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a VitalityPress book that I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.

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