Medicare Fraud and ID Theft Prevention
Just as technology has made life a lot easier and more comfortable, the risk of cybercrime, particularly identity theft, is ever-growing. This is especially true in the healthcare industry where more than 47 million Medicare members are especially vulnerable to Medicare fraud and identity theft simply because their Medicare membership cards still carry their Social Security numbers. And while the Obama administration has already signed a bill requiring the US Department of Health and Human Services to provide members with new Medicare cards that do not code, embed, or display SSNs.
Medicare fraud and identity theft occurs when your personal information is used by an unauthorized individual to obtain medical care, secure diagnostic procedures, purchase medications, or even submit faked or forged medical and healthcare billings to Medicare in your name. Here are some ways you can do to prevent identity theft and Medicare fraud.
- Give your personal information only to professionals and organizations who are duly recognized and approved by Medicare. These can include doctors, other healthcare professionals, health care insurers, and trusted entities in the community who are duly recognized by Medicare.
- Always protect your Medicare number as well as your Social Security number and treat them like they are your most valuable possessions.
- Try to learn as much as you possibly can about Medicare including the different healthcare services that providers can and cannot bill to Medicare. It is very important to read and understand your rights as per Medicare laws and provisions.
- Make sure to have an accurate documentation of all of your healthcare activities including doctor’s visits, the type of treatment or service received, any medications you had to obtain, and any other procedure or activity that transpired during the particular visit. Make sure to have an accurate system of documenting the name of the doctor, the date and time of the visit, the location of the clinic, and other details about your visit. This holds true with hospitalization and should include your date of admission. Your date of discharge, and the final diagnosis. Now, once your Medicare statement arrives, make sure to compare the statement details with your own record.
- Never ever trust individuals or organizations that offer gifts or even money in exchange for free medical care. The only instance you will receive free medical care today is if you enlist in a charity event or a medical mission.
- If you have to obtain your medication from the pharmacy make sure to check if it is the same as what the doctor prescribed. This means it must be the correct drug, the correct dose, and the correct amount. If not, report it immediately to the pharmacist.
- Try to learn about your health condition and stay away from individuals or groups that tell you to seek treatment or procedure that is entirely unnecessary and uncalled for. Most fraudulent Medicare schemes work this way. They bill you for services that you clearly do not need.
There are other ways that you can do to prevent Medicare fraud and identity theft. The key is to be knowledgeable about what Medicare is all about, the services covered and not covered by Medicare, and your health condition.