November 27, 2021

CMS warns of Medicaid, Medicare scams

By SARAH SCULL CNA managing editor sscull@crestonnews.com

A “convincing” new scam has been reported by one Creston resident in which a person claiming to be from Medicare card services is requesting personal identifying information.

A spokes person on behalf of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said there is not such attempt to gather personal, health or medical related information, nor to distributed new or replace existing Medicaid or Medicare cards.

“Older Americans are particularly vulnerable to Medicare fraud and scams,” said Ashley Negron, press officer at Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. “CMS takes these scams seriously. We consistently warn Medicare beneficiaries that scammers may try to steal their Medicare number, banking information, or other personal information and data. We urge seniors to make sure they do not give out their Medicare number and to share it only with their doctor, pharmacist, hospital, health insurer, or other trusted healthcare provider.”

Starting in April 2018, CMS began distributing new Medicare cards replacing the Social Security-based Medicare number with a new randomly generated Medicare number, for all Medicare beneficiaries in an effort to reduce Medicare and Social Security fraud and abuse.

“By now, all beneficiaries should have this new paper card which is pictured here,” said Negron. “There are no new efforts underway to replace this card, and even with this change, people with Medicare should still guard their Medicare card and treat it like a credit card; check Medicare claims summary forms for errors, and be wary of any unsolicited requests for their Medicare number. Most importantly, Medicare will never call beneficiaries to ask for or check Medicare numbers.”

According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid, scammers have become very sophisticated and advanced.

“Often times Medicare scams include offers for free or reduced-price medical equipment, consultations, or health services. These scams can happen anywhere, including through telemarketing calls, health fairs, and even knocking on doors,” Negron said.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services remind the public:

• Medicare will never contact anyone for their Medicare Number or other personal information unless the person has given them permission in advance – for example a person reaches out to CMS for help with a Medicare claim.

• Medicare will never call to sell anything.

• Beneficiaries may get calls from people promising things if they give them a MedicareNumber. Don’t do it.

• Medicare will never visit someone’s home.

• Medicare can’t enroll anyone over the phone unless, again, the beneficiary called CMS first.

CMS recommends the following “Dos” and “Don’ts” to protect individuals against Medicare Fraud.

Do:

• Protect your Medicare Number and your Social Security Number, and treat both as if they were credit cards.

• Use a calendar to record all of your doctor’s appointments and any tests you get.

• Review your Medicare claims for errors and problems, with the services your received, including things like fake charges, double billing or other fraudulent activity, waste or abuse.

• Remember that nothing is ever “free.” Don’t accept offers of money or gifts for free medical care.

• Learn more about Medicare and recent scams.

• Know what a Medicare plan can and can’t do before you join.

• Visit medicare.gov/forms-help-resources/help-fight-medicare-fraud

Don’t:

• Give your Medicare card, Medicare Number, Social Security card, or Social Security Number to anyone except your doctor or people you know should have it.

• Accept offers of money or gifts for free medical care.

• Allow anyone, except your doctor or other Medicare providers, to review your medical records or recommend services.

• Accept medical supplies, equipment, or genetic testing kits from door-to-door salesmen or solicitors at a mall or fair.

• Let anyone persuade you to receive health care services you don’t need, such as genetic testing. Only make these decisions with your doctor.

• Contact your doctor to request a service that you don’t need.

Additional Information:

• Call to report suspected fraud by calling the toll-free HHS fraud hotline at 1-800-447-8477.

• Seniors can call their local Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP). To find the SMP in your state, call 877-808-2468

Sarah Scull

SARAH SCULL

Sarah Scull is a San Diego transplant living in Creston, Iowa. Sarah joined the Creston News Advertiser editorial staff as a reporter in in 2012 and was promoted to managing editor in November 2018. After two years in that role, she has since become associate editor to spend her time doing what she loves – writing and photography.