Are you a Medicare beneficiary? If so, then this is the time of year when you can change your health and prescription drug plans. But watch out! The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) report that fraudulent activities increase dramatically during this period.
According to Golocalprov.com, “billions of American taxpayers’ dollars are wasted on improper payments to individuals, organizations and contractors.” These benefits are paid out to the wrong person, for the wrong reason and in the wrong amounts. A whopping $98 billion in improper payments—with more than half coming from Medicare and Medicaid—were made in 2009 alone. Thanks to the dedicated efforts of almost 25,000 volunteers across the United States, however, millions of Americans have been learning about Medicare fraud and helped prevent it since 1997.
Sadly, not every senior who needs this information gets it and falls prey to fraudulent schemes. If you are a Medicare recipient or know someone who is, here are some easy ways you can help prevent Medicare fraud:
- Keep your Medicare number private—treat it as you would your Social Security and bank account numbers.
- If someone you don’t know contacts you and asks for personal information, don’t give it to them. Remember that it can be used for fraudulent purposes.
- Beware of people claiming to be a Medicare representatives who ask for your Medicare number. Real Medicare officials “wouldn’t need to ask and they wouldn’t call or visit unless call first.”
- When you receive your Medicare summary notice, make sure the figures posted tally with all the expenses you have accrued for that month.
- Don’t hesitate to report any suspicious activity to the Office of the Inspector General in your state.
Maintaining awareness is key to staying protected. But if you do find yourself in the position of Medicare fraud victim, a competent lawyer can help you regain both your good name—and your long-term security.