Medicare is the national health care plan for all U.S. citizens age 65 and older. It also covers people younger than age 65 who receive Social Security Disability Income and people diagnosed with specific conditions.
Medicare is a $585 billion program with approximately 48 million enrollees. That number will grow as more baby boomers become eligible for Medicare. Medicare fraud can be hard to track, but some estimate that Medicare fraud accounts for up to 10 percent of its annual budget.
We all pay a price for Medicare fraud, waste and abuse, which contributes significantly to rising health care costs. Here are some red flags to watch for:
- Check your monthly statement for services or equipment you didn’t receive or for prices that seem higher than you expect or were told.
- Never give your Medicare number (which is your Social Security number) in exchange for “free” testing, screening, products or services. Never give your Medicare number to anyone who calls or solicits you. Medicare will never call you.
- A medical provider should never charge you for billing Medicare on your behalf or for filling out forms.
- Medical providers should never who waive your coinsurance or deductible.
If you suspect Medicare fraud or have questions about your bill, call OIC’s Statewide Health Benefits Insurance Advisors (SHIBA) at 1-800-562-6900 or contact a local SHIBA office.
SHIBA also holds Medicare fraud prevention workshops throughout the state.