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In a perfect world, we would never have to discuss how to protect yourself from Medicare scams. Our beloved seniors’ age and life experience would command respect, and they would never have to worry about falling victim to schemes that prey on their vulnerabilities. 

Unfortunately, however, we do not live in a perfect world. In the ever-evolving landscape of healthcare fraud, senior citizens in Southern Colorado remain a prime target for scammers seeking to exploit their vulnerabilities. 

As the team at Preferred Insurance, our top priority is empowering our valued older clients, their caregivers, and their loved ones with the knowledge and tools necessary to avoid exploitation.

This blog post will give proven strategies to help Southern Colorado seniors shield themselves from the latest Medicare scams circulating in 2024. By arming you with the critical information you need, we can foster an environment where our senior population can access the care they deserve without fear of falling victim to deception.

Recognize the Warning Signs of Medicare Fraud

The first step to protect yourself from Medicare scams is to become familiar with common tactics employed by fraudsters. With an estimated $60 billion lost annually to Medicare fraud, errors, and abuse nationwide, the need for vigilance has never been greater. 

One prevalent scheme involves unscrupulous actors posing as representatives from Medicare or related healthcare providers. These individuals may make unsolicited contact with seniors, offering “free” medical equipment, services, or even gift cards in exchange for confirming their personal information and Medicare eligibility.

Another tactic gaining traction is the submission of fraudulent claims for durable medical equipment that is medically unnecessary. In these cases, the scammers leverage the senior’s Medicare details to bill the program, regardless of whether the equipment was actually provided or needed.

Remember, Medicare will not call or stop by your home unsolicited. They will contact you in writing. If you suspect a written communication is fraudulent, verify the contact information via a third party, such as their official website.  

Maintaining vigilance against unsolicited contacts, especially those requesting sensitive information, is crucial. Remain wary of any offers that seem too good to be true, as they often conceal nefarious intentions.

You Might Like: Answers to Five Frequently Asked Medicare Questions

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Educate Yourself and Your Loved Ones

To protect yourself from Medicare scams, remember these three words: Knowledge is power. Stay informed by subscribing to trusted sources, such as the Administration for Community Living’s (ACL) Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) program, which provides up-to-date information and resources.

Encourage family members and caregivers to familiarize themselves with common Medicare fraud schemes. Ensure your trusted care team is on the same page about the importance of being skeptical of unsolicited contacts, safeguarding personal information, and promptly reporting any suspicious activities.

By fostering a culture of shared awareness, you can empower your entire community to stand united and protect yourself from Medicare scams.

Fortify Your Digital Security Measures

Whether you are computer-savvy or not, you can be assured that cybercriminals are. They have an array of tools at their disposal to target the elderly. Strengthening your online defenses is vital if you are going to protect yourself from Medicare scams.

Ensure all your devices, including your smartphone, tablets, and computers, have the latest security software and operating system updates. This proactive approach helps reduce the risk of malware, viruses, and phishing attempts that could compromise your personal data.

Next, prioritize using strong, unique passwords for all your online accounts, including those related to your healthcare and financial information. 

If this all seems overwhelming and you do not have a trusted family member to help, contact resources such as Silver Key. Silver Key provides seniors with classes and training to help them with technology needs. 

You can protect yourself from Medicare scams by staying vigilant with your online identity.

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Carefully Review All Financial and Medicare Statements

The next strategy is to regularly monitor your financial and Medicare statements for suspicious activity and promptly report any discrepancies. Rest assured, your bank takes the exploitation of the elderly as seriously as the law does.

Your Medicare statements will fall into one of two categories:

Original Medicare

If you have Original Medicare, your statements will be titled “Medicare Summary Notice” (MSN). 

If you have enrolled in electronic statements, you will receive an email monthly when the new MSN is available online. 

You will receive your MSN via U.S. Mail every three months if you have not enrolled in electronic delivery. 

Medicare Advantage or Medigap Plans

If you have enrolled in either a Medicare Advantage or Medigap Plan in Colorado, your statements will likely be called an “Explanation of Benefits,” or EOB. These documents detail the healthcare services and equipment billed to your Medicare account, providing a crucial window into any suspicious or unauthorized activity.

Related: Do I Need Supplemental Health Insurance for Medicare In Colorado?

Regardless of whether you receive an MSN or EOB, to protect yourself from Medicare scams, carefully scrutinize each statement for any items or services you did not receive or authorize. If you notice discrepancies, do not hesitate to contact your healthcare providers, Medicare provider, and relevant authorities to report the issue.

Additionally, consider keeping a personal record of all your medical appointments, treatments, and equipment received. With online access to your medical records, comparing your notes with your doctor’s is easier than ever. This detailed log can serve as a valuable reference point when cross-checking your EOB statements, making it easier to identify any irregularities.

By staying vigilant and proactively reviewing your Medicare documentation, you can effectively safeguard yourself against Medicare scams and ensure that your healthcare needs are taken care of.

Take Immediate Action if You Suspect Fraud

Despite your best efforts to protect yourself from Medicare scams, the unfortunate reality is that some seniors may still fall victim to fraud. If you suspect that you or a loved one has been the target of fraudulent activity, immediate action is crucial.

Contact Colorado’s Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) for guidance and support. This organization can provide personalized assistance in navigating the reporting process and connecting you with the appropriate authorities.

Additionally, you should report any suspected fraud to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). These entities are responsible for investigating and addressing healthcare-related fraud, ensuring that your concerns are addressed promptly and effectively.

Remember, by taking decisive action and leveraging the available resources, you can protect yourself from Medicare scams, contribute to the broader effort to combat Medicare fraud and safeguard the well-being of seniors in our community.

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Establish a Trusted Network of Support

Navigating the complexities of Medicare and healthcare can be daunting, especially for older adults. Building a trusted support network, including healthcare providers, caregivers, friends and family, and community organizations, is essential to protect yourself from Medicare scams.

Speak with your primary care physician, Medicare counselors, and local senior centers to stay informed about the latest fraud trends and prevention strategies. These trusted sources can offer guidance, resources, and assistance in identifying and reporting suspicious activities.

Furthermore, encourage your family members and close friends to actively monitor your healthcare and financial affairs. By encouraging open communication you can create a robust support network to quickly identify and address potential red flags.

Remember, you are not alone in the fight against Medicare fraud. Leveraging the expertise and vigilance of your trusted circle can significantly enhance your ability to safeguard your well-being and financial security.

Preferred Insurance: Your Trust-Worthy Medicare Insurance Partner

At Preferred Insurance, we believe that the senior population in Southern Colorado is the backbone of our strong community. Our dedication to protecting these vulnerable ones goes far beyond acting as their Medicare insurance broker. We treat our older clients as if they are part of our family, and that includes protecting them from Medicare scams. 

Together, let’s make 2024 a year where Medicare fraud becomes a thing of the past.

Contact us today for your free quote