28 May MEDICARE TELEHEALTH SCAMS
Dr. Sherry McCoy PhD
is a freelance writer & actor for the Stop Senior Scams Acting Program (SSSAP) in Los Angeles. Follow SSSAP on Facebook . For more info re: SSSAP, contact Adrienne Omansky at SSSAP4U@gmail.com. Questions for the writer should be directed to “Dear Sherry” at Not Born Yesterday! P.O. Box 722, Brea, CA 92822 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“MEDICARE TELEHEALTH SCAMS”
Dr. Sherry McCoy, PhD – Stop Senior Scams℠ Acting Program
It’s June 2020, and that means summer has arrived! Longer days and warmer weather are on the horizon. It’s a beautiful time of the year, even though most of us can’t enjoy traveling too far because of stay-at-home orders due to the coronavirus pandemic. Too bad the scammers aren’t “staying-at-home” during this health crisis! Sorry to say, they’re out in full force — ever on the lookout for an opportunity to make an illegal buck, at our expense. But, we don’t have to be sitting ducks. There is something we can do about it. We can educate ourselves about scams that are out there. We can be pro-active in taking steps to protect ourselves and loved ones from fraudulent schemes. And, we can report incidents where we have been the target or victim of a scam. That’s empowerment! Let’s take a look at Medicare Telehealth fraud. Many thanks to Micki Nozaki (Senior Medicare Patrol Project Director of California Health Advocates, cahealthadvocates.org/) for keeping us informed about what’s happening in this arena.
The Good News — According to the Senior Medicare Patrol¹, “Medicare [has] recently expanded its coverage of telehealth services (TS) to enable beneficiaries to receive a wider range of healthcare services from doctors without having to travel to a healthcare facility.” That means that your doctor, nurse practitioner, or psychologist, etc., can provide you with TS via phone or video format. It also means you can receive those TS at home, or in any healthcare facility — including “the doctor’s office, hospital, nursing home or rural health clinic.” TS also include “routine office visits, mental health counseling, and preventive health screenings for cancer and other illnesses.” And finally, Medicare is paying for TS during this health crisis “at the same rates as in-person services, giving doctors and other clinicians an incentive to use this alternative and reserve their offices to treat those who truly require in-person care.”
The Bad News – Scammers and deceptive providers are using TS illegally as a way of committing Medicare fraud and abuse.
Keep an eye out for –
- Bills to your health insurance for TS that were not rendered.
- Cold Calls from a provider / physician / practitioner you haven’t seen in years. They say they’re just calling to say hello and see how you are. But later, you might receive a bill that shows you were charged for a Medicare office visit.
- Telehealth calls you didn’t request.
- Telehealth invoices for calls you didn’t request.
- Telehealth or telemedicine calls via telephone, SKYPE, Facetime or ZOOM offering you free medical equipment, COVID-19 test kits or vaccines.
Ways to Protect Yourself
Check with your provider and your Medicare health plan BEFORE you agree to any telehealth services.
Never give out your personal info to any stranger on the phone.
Know that Medicare will never call you and ask for your Medicare number.
If you receive a phone call from a provider you haven’t seen in years, inquire about the purpose of their call.
If you have questions about Medicare fraud / abuse, or believe you have been the victim of Medicare fraud please contact the Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) at 1-855-613-7080. For more info regarding California SMP, go to www.cahealthadvocates.org. If you feel you have been the target or victim of a scam, report it to the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging’s Fraud Hotline at 1-855-303-9470. You may also report scams to the Federal Trade Commission at 877-382-4357 or https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-1. And then — Pass It On! Contact the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office online at http://da.lacounty.gov// or phone (213) 974-3512.
Remember: You may be a target, but you don’t have to be a victim!
Dr. Sherry McCoy, PhD, is a freelance writer & actor for the Stop Senior Scams ℠ Acting Program (SSSAP) in Los Angeles. For more information, please contact Adrienne Omansky at SSSAP4U@gmail.com. Follow SSSAP on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SSSAP2016/?fref=ts. Questions for the writer should be directed to “Dear Sherry” at Not Born Yesterday! P.O. Box 722, Brea, CA 92822 or email@example.com.