Senior citizens are unfortunately a common target for fraudsters and scammers. Most seniors, because of the era they were brought up in, are trusting and polite; two traits that scammers take fill advantage of. Many of them own their own home, or have built a savings that fraudsters look at as ripe for the taking. The major vulnerability of seniors however is their interest in products that promised increased virility, cognitive function, physical ability, or boast anti-cancer properties. In a country such as America where new cures are constantly being discovered, and the dream of a longer and healthier life is fast becoming a reality, it is no wonder they fall prey to the promises of con-artists.
Medicare fraud takes many forms, and seniors are a constant target of it. One such mien that it takes is that of Medical Equipment Fraud. Manufacturers offer free equipment or products (often that is not needed by the individual) in exchange for their Medicare number. Insurers are then billed using fake invoices, even having corrupt doctors sign off on the items. Another common con is the “Rolling Lab” schemes, where seniors are induced in shopping malls, health clubs, even retirement homes, to take a variety of tests for which Medicare is then billed.
Tips to Avoid Health Care Fraud
It is unfortunate that there are unscrupulous people out there who would take advantage of hardworking, trusting people, many of whom have helped to shape modern society. There are certain things seniors can do to avoid such scammers however, such as:
- Don’t sign blank insurance documents
- Never give full authority to a medical provider to bill for any services rendered
- Ask your medical provider up front what their services will cost and how much of that cost you will be liable for
- Review the benefit statement of your insurer carefully, and don’t be afraid to question anything you are unsure of or sceptical about
- If you are offered the services of medical equipment for free by telemarketers or door-to-door salespeople, politely decline their offer
- Don’t give your insurance or Medicare information to anyone other than those who have provided medical services to you
- Record all of your appointments and details about the treatment you received during them
You should also be aware of anyone offering cheap prescription drugs. Extreme caution should be exercised if you are considering purchasing prescription drugs over the internet. Make sure that you buy from a reputable, licensed seller, identifiable by the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Site (VIPPS) seal of approval that is displayed on the website of authorized distributors. If you purchase any medication from someone offering a special deal or during a product promotion drive, be aware that those products may be counterfeit. If you purchase any medication and experience side effects or your condition fails to improve, consult your physician or pharmacist immediately.