AARP North Carolina is training volunteer fraud fighters to talk with community groups about how to prevent medical frauds. Including medical identity theft, medical frauds are the fastest- growing crime in America. Thieves steal your personal information to line their own pockets with fraudulent claims against Medicare or Medicaid, or against your own health policy.
According to the World Privacy Forum, as many as a half-million Americans have had their medical information stolen. Victims can be left with huge bills for services they never received, along with legal, medical and insurance fraud issues that can take years to untangle.
How would you know if your personal, health, or health insurance information has been compromised? According to the Federal Trade Commission, you may be a victim of medical identity theft if:
- You get a bill for medical services you didn’t receive
- A debt collector contacts you about a medical debt you don’t owe
- You order a copy of your credit report and see medical collection notices you don’t recognize
- You try to make a legitimate insurance claim and your health plan says you’ve reached your limit on benefits. (Another take on this is that your Medicare Part D benefits are used fraudulently and this pushes you to the dreaded donut hole quicker than you would have been under legitimate claims.)
- You are denied insurance because your medical records show a condition you don’t have
How to protect yourself:
- Keep your personal numbers private.
- Get an annual copy of your medical records from each of your doctors.
- Review your records. If you find an error, ask your health-care providers (hospital or MD) and Medicare or your insurance company to correct it.
- Always open mail from Medicare, Medicaid or your insurance company. Check the dates and types of services to see if they match your records.
- Request a list of all payments made to you.
- Check your credit report.
If you have a problem, you can receive help at the following locations and agencies:
- Federal Trade Commission: Contact Arturo DeCastro at 202-326-2747 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (if your doctor won’t give you your medical records): OCRMail@hhs.gov
- North Carolina Senior Medicare Patrol/Seniors Health Insurance Information Program, N.C. Department of Insurance: 1-800-443-9345
If you would like to arrange for an AARP fraud fighter to make a presentation to your group, contact Helen Savage at 919-508-0262 or email email@example.com.