Medicare Fraud Alert
March 7, 2019
Durable Medical Equipment (DME) has been an area ripe with fraud for many years. The Wyoming Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) is seeing an increase in fraudulent phone calls and media ads directed to Medicare beneficiaries, offering back, neck, and other types of braces. In many situations, the caller falsely claims to be a Medicare representative checking on a patient’s arthritis or back pain. The scammers then obtain the Medicare recipient’s personal information, add the name of an unknown referring medical provider to the order, ship the DME to the beneficiary, and bill Medicare. Medicare typically covers the cost of such braces when they have been approved and ordered by the patient’s doctor. But due to the high volume of fraudulent claims, it is impossible for Medicare to sift through and reject every false claim. Claims are often approved, and beneficiaries soon begin receiving frequent, often harassing, phone calls and more packages from numerous medical supply companies.
SMP urges consumers to avoid answering calls from unknown numbers. They should be aware that scammers can use Caller ID Spoofing technology to mask their real phone numbers on the caller ID. If a call is not a scam, they will likely leave a voicemail requesting a return call. But even then, a beneficiary should NEVER give personal identifying information out over the phone.
Medicare beneficiaries who legitimately need braces or other DME equipment should:
• Talk to their physician and get an order from them
• Contact a reputable Medicare DME supplier
• Ask the supplier “Do you accept Medicare assignment?”
• Follow the protocols outlined by the supplier, the physician, and/or by Medicare (PH: 1-800-Medicare)
To report suspected Medicare fraud or abuse, to receive assistance with Medicare, or to learn more, call the Wyoming Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) or Wyoming State Health Insurance Information Program (WSHIIP) at Wyoming Senior Citizens, Inc.