“Do you have back pain? You may be eligible for a free Medicare-approved back brace, and we’ll send you a free knee brace, too.”
Getting a phone call offering things for free may sound great, but it’s just one example of how fraudsters steal tax payer dollars from the federal health care system, according to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).
Scam artists often offer ‘free’ back braces, glucose monitors, scooters, or diabetic supplies. They always say it’s free, and they always ask for your Medicare number.
“Giving your Medicare number over the telephone to a stranger is not the way to order medical equipment and supplies,” says Vivianne Chaumont, Director of the Division of Medicaid and Long-Term Care. “While Medicare does cover 80% of the costs of items such as a back brace, this is something that should be prescribed by your doctor.”
Medicare is not free. Medicare is insurance paid by taxpayer dollars, and it’s important to protect your benefits and your money.
“Never accept free items or services from strangers who call or come to your door,” Chaumont said. “Never give out your Medicare number to strangers, including people at health fairs providing ‘free’ services like toe nail clipping, eye exams, blood pressure and cholesterol checks, and diabetic shoes.”
Detect possible fraud by reviewing your Medicare Summary Notices for any suspicious charges or items that have been double billed. Then report any suspected fraud to the Nebraska Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) in DHHS. The Nebraska SMP works to educate beneficiaries about Medicare fraud and abuse.
For more information on the Nebraska SMP, go to www.dhhs.ne.gov/smp or call 800-942-7830.