Medicare fraud costs America nearly $60 billion dollars each year. Not only is this hurting those receiving coverage, but it also affects everyone who pays taxes because we must make up those losses through increased taxes. The Affordable Care Act, enacted under President Obama, provides extra funds to the FBI to specifically target those crooks who are stealing from all of us via Medicare fraud. Yet, as strong as that tactic may be, more must be done, especially on an individual basis.
Each of us has a role to play in helping to prevent Medicare fraud. Below are numerous areas and safeguards to further the cause of preventing Medicare fraud:
1. Protect your Medicare number. Never give it out over the telephone, to someone who comes to your door, or even to a website.
2. Take very detailed notes of all visits to doctors (i.e., who you met with, what service was offered, and any medications prescribed).
3. Review all of your Medicaid and Medicare bills to ensure their accuracy.
4. Do not lend your Medicare card to anyone, even a relative, without first notifying the service provider’s office that someone else will be handling your card for that particular appointment.
5. Do not share your Medicare information with anyone other than your physician or service provider, and only in person at their office.
6. Do not allow anyone other than your provider to suggest to you that they know how to bill to Medicare/Medicaid in a manner that will save you money.
7. Never sign your name to a blank billing form.
8. Do not accept free tests (blood pressure, certain screening, etc.) in exchange for your Medicare number.
9. Call 1-800-Medicare (1-800-633-4227) with any concerns you may have about your Medicare card. They are open 24-hrs/day.
10. If you suspect Medicare fraud, call the Fraud hotline at HHS (Health and Human Services) 1-800-447-8477.
Remember, nothing is truly free in this world, so when a sales person is offering you something for free, beware. Also, from a practical perspective, you will not stop all fraud; but you can certainly protect your loved ones from most fraudulent practices by following the tips listed above.
If everyone were to be more vigilant about preventing Medicare/Medicaid fraud, maybe our tax dollars used for that $60 billion lost every year on this fraud could be used for other worthwhile causes.