Nothing in life is free, especially if you receive an offer for a free medical brace from Medicare. Targeting vulnerable senior citizens, scammers are making cold calls claiming to be from Medicare or a medical warehouse referred by the victim’s doctor.
How it works
The scammer offers the victim a free back or knee brace in exchange for personal information such as a Medicare number. Once they receive the information, it allows the scammer to make Medicare claims under the patient’s name.
When the victim agrees to receiving the so-called free back or knee brace, it may be free to them but in reality it’s costing Medicare and tax-payers thousands of dollars.
Why and How?
Scammers have figured out that Medicare will pay for back and knee braces since they have not reduced their reimbursement amounts for medical equipment.
With that being said, once the scammer gains access to the victim’s account, they will bill Medicare for the brace that actually costs far less than what they claim. Unfortunately, Medicare receives billions of claims per year, and only reviews about three precent of them, the remainder are signed off and paid for.
“Medicare ends up getting charged for every item the person received. Overall, Medicare fraud costs American taxpayers $60 billion every year. Just on back braces, taxpayers spent nearly $108 million between 2010 and 2016,” reports Medicare.
Aside from costing taxpayers, victims who receive the braces, either receive more than they need or low-quality braces that won’t even last them them the five years it would take Medicare to pay for a new one.
Tips on Mitigating Medicare Fraud
To avoid falling vicitm to this scam here are a few tips from Medicare:
- Only answer the phone if it’s a caller that you know.
- If you do answer the phone and it’s a solicitor, hang up. If it’s a postcard or email, discard it.
- Turn off or disregard TV ads offering free back or knee braces.
- If you do talk to the solicitor, tell them you’re going to report them for Medicare fraud and you’d like to be removed from their list.
- Never give out your Medicare card number, Social Security number, birth date, bank account info, or credit card number to an unknown party. This goes for over the phone, on email, or on social media.
- Always double check your Medicare statement for errors.
- Report instances of fraud to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker.