This article is contributed and written by Dr. Sherry McCoy, PhD, a freelance writer & actor for the Stop Senior Scams ℠ Acting Program (SSSAP) in Los Angeles.
Durable medical equipment is one of the top arenas where Medicare fraud truly has run amok. Here’s a prime example — We’ve all seen ads in the newspapers or on television that say you can get a knee brace (or a neck brace, or back brace, etc.) for little or no cost if you have Medicare. According to these ads, you don’t have to include your doctor or healthcare practitioner in this decision – no prescription is required. All you have to do, the ads say, is call them and give them your Medicare number and they’ll take care of the paperwork easy as pie! – Well, don’t believe it! It’s a scam.
Here’s the truth –
- Just because an advertisement appears in the newspaper or on TV, doesn’t mean it’s real or legitimate.
- Nothing in Medicare is “free”.
- In order for Medicare to pay for durable medical equipment, it must be medically necessary and prescribed by your physician.
- You should guard your Medicare number, your Social Security Number, and other personal information. Keep this information in a safe place, and do not give it out to anyone.
Please note that durable medical equipment scams are not only found in newspaper ads or on TV. These scammers also send out postcards via the U.S. mail and will call you on the phone in order to tempt you with their fraudulent schemes. Don’t fall for it! Just hang up!
If you have questions about Medicare fraud/abuse, or believe you have been the victim of Medicare fraud, please contact the California Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) at 1-855-613-7080. SMP has highly trained volunteers who will help Medicare beneficiaries prevent, detect, and report healthcare fraud. Also, the volunteers at SMP will teach Medicare beneficiaries how to recognize scams, protect personal health info, and identify and report errors on healthcare statements.
If you feel you have been the target or victim of a scam, you can also report it to the Federal Trade Commission at 877-382-4357 or https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-1.
Remember: You may be a target, but you don’t have to be a victim!