Health Information for Older People
Last month I visited a clinic giving free checkups to people who have Medicare. When I looked at my Medicare notice today, I saw charges I didn’t recognize. Did they charge me after all?
Medicare fraud happens when someone intentionally uses your Medicare number to bill Medicare for services or equipment you didn’t get or didn’t need. The culprit could be a care provider, a scam artist who got your patient identification number through a sham clinic, or an employee with access to your records. And it costs the government billions of dollars each year.
What can you do? Check your monthly Medicare statements. If you aren’t sure about a charge, first call the person or company who provided the service. Most errors are honest mistakes. If you still aren’t sure about a charge, call the Customer Service number on your statement. Or call your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). The number is on the Medicare website. If you believe the charge may be fraudulent, contact your local Senior Medicare Patrol or report it to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General.
Protect your Medicare number by carrying it and giving it out only when you need to. For general information on protecting your personal information, visit the FTC.
Be skeptical of clinics or providers who advertise free services specifically for Medicare patients. If you need to find a federally-funded health center that is free or low-cost, visit the Health Resources and Services Administration or use the Partnership for Prescription Assistance’s Free Clinic Finder. If you don’t have a computer at home, visit your local library.
Have questions about Medicare? Go to Medicare.gov.
Who Cares About Medicare Fraud?
Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General
Your Senior Medicare Patrol
Finding a Free or Low-cost Clinic
Health Resources and Services Administration
Free Clinic Finder