Senior Medicare Patrol volunteers are often the first to identify new Medicare scams because they meet one-on-one with Medicare beneficiaries. Here are some of the top scams they’re seeing and what you can do to protect yourself:
1. A new round of COVID fraud
During the height of COVID-19, criminals offered free coronavirus tests as a way to gather people’s Medicare numbers and other personal information and file fake claims in their name.
“Somebody calls unsolicited, offering to send a COVID test,” says Tiffany Erhard, New York state Senior Medicare Patrol director. “They aren’t sending real tests, but they’re billing as if they are, and they’re taking the person’s information to use it unscrupulously or sell it.”
Senior Medicare Patrol
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After a major investigation, the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General charged 18 defendants in nine federal districts across the U.S. for making more than $490 million in COVID-related false billings.
The scam died down but resurfaced near the end of the public health emergency, which officially expired May 11, 2023. Senior Medicare Patrols reported seven COVID complaints in January 2023, then suddenly had 72 in April.
“They’re using the end of the public health emergency to try to get personal information and Medicare numbers,” says Director Rebecca Kinney of the Administration for Community Living’s office of health care information and counseling. Her division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) finances the Senior Medicare Patrol program.
2. Bills for diabetes supplies
Volunteers in the Lone Star State report an increase in diabetes supply scams, says Diane Nguyen, program director for the Texas Senior Medicare Patrol.
“The only reason we are seeing these cases is that people are checking their Medicare summary notices,” Nguyen says.