Beware of Providers and Suppliers Who Advertise Free Services

Beware of Providers and Suppliers Who Advertise Free Services

We’re getting several reports of fraudulent providers and durable medical equipment (DME) suppliers who are offering beneficiaries “free” services or equipment in exchange for their Medicare numbers. “Free” is the red flag. If the services or treatments were truly free, no Medicare number would be needed. Fraudsters ask for these numbers because then they can sell them to other crooks and/or bill Medicare directly for services and equipment beneficiaries don’t ever receive.

Things to remember:

  • If your Medicare number is requested for a “free” service or item, it is not free as advertised. It is most likely a scam. Medicare is often billed. If Medicare denies payment, you could be stuck with a bill for something you never received. If the fraudster bills Medicare with your number for too many services or too much equipment, your Medicare number may be flagged as an “over-utilizer.” This could make it hard to get the services and supplies you may need in the future if/when you need them.
  • Beware of people who say they know how to get Medicare to pay for something. Medicare pays for services and items based on medical necessity — meaning a service or item you really need for your medical condition. Also, most durable medical equipment requires a prescription from your doctor. People making these offers will have no concern or mention of either of these requirements.
  • If it’s “too good to be true,”…it probably isn’t true! When it comes to scams and fraud, this is a good rule of thumb to follow.
  • Beware of phone scams where callers claim to be from Medicare, Social Security, the IRS or other government entity and ask for your Medicare number or other personal information. These entities won’t call you. They already have your Medicare number and will not ask you for it or other personal information.

If you or someone you know comes across such scams, let us know. Together we can stop fraud! Call the Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program (HICAP) at 1-800-434-0222, or the Senior Medicare Patrol at 1-855-613-7080.  Thank You!

 

Our blogger Karen J. Fletcher is CHA's publications consultant. She provides technical expertise, writing and research on Medicare, health disparities and other health care issues. With a Masters in Public Health from UC Berkeley, she serves in health advocacy as a trainer and consultant. See her current articles.

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