The budget-busting trajectory of Medicare expenses was an important topic in the recent presidential campaign and is likely to continue to be a focus of political debate for years or decades to come. One way to save the federal government and taxpayers a significant amount of money is to root out Medicare, which is estimated to cost $60 billion a year.
While present and future Medicare beneficiaries only have an influence on national policy through their elected officials, they can take matters into their own hands to save Medicare from paying for services that are not or should not be provided.
Medicare fraud occurs when providers mislead Medicare into paying for services it shouldn’t be paying for. Examples of fraud include: a health care provider, such as a doctor or hospital, billing Medicare for services you never received; a supplier charging Medicare for equipment you never got; or someone using your Medicare card to get medical care or supplies.
You can take these steps to help prevent fraud.
Never let anyone else use your Medicare number by being very careful before giving your number out to anyone. Be suspicious of anyone who offers you free medical equipment in exchange for your Medicare number.
Always check your medical bills, Medicare summary notices, and explanation of benefits for any inaccuracies.
Understand what Medicare does and does not cover so you can question a provider who says you can get coverage for something that is not normally covered. For information on what Medicare does not cover, click here.
Only accept services that you need.
Be suspicious of a provider that advertises free consultations to people with Medicare, uses pressure or scare tactics to sell expensive tests or services, or doesn’t charge copayments without first checking on your ability to pay.
For more information on what to look out for, click here.
If you suspect fraud, you call the Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s hotline at 1-800-HHS-TIPS (1-800-447-8477) or e-mail the Inspector General’s office at HHSTips@oig.hhs.gov.