Senior citizens are often targeted by con artists, and a high percentage of the crime is either healthcare or health insurance fraud.
Seniors are particularly targeted because many have accumulated a nest egg, typically have excellent credit and have good private health insurance or Medicare.
Medicare fraud, particularly in the form of unneeded medical equipment, is becoming increasingly common. Some manufacturers offer free medical products in exchange for Medicare cards and then forge a doctor’s signature or bribe unethical physicians to sign off on the equipment.
Sometimes fake tests are given in “rolling labs” at shopping malls, health clubs and retirement homes and billed to insurance companies or Medicare. Seniors are particularly susceptible to products that promise anti-aging, virility, cognitive function and anti-cancer remedies.
The FBI offers the following tips to seniors to avoid healthcare or health insurance fraud:
- Never sign blank insurance forms.
- Never give blanket authorization to a medical provider to bill for services rendered.
- Ask your medical providers what they will charge and what you will be expected to pay out-of-pocket.
- Carefully review your insurer’s explanation of the benefits statement. Call your insurer and physician if you have questions.
- Don’t do business with telephone solicitors or door-to-door salespeople who tell you their products are free.
- Give your insurance identification only to those who have provided you with medical services.
- Keep accurate records of healthcare appointments.
- Know if your physician ordered equipment for you.
- Be aware that promotions and special deals may be associated with counterfeit product promotion.
- Use caution when purchasing drugs over the Internet. Reputable online pharmacies have a seal of approval called the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Site (VIPPS). Don’t purchase from unlicensed distributors.
- Closely examine the packaging and lot numbers of prescription drugs. Consult your pharmacist or doctor if your prescription looks suspicious.
- Alert your physician immediately if your prescription causes adverse side effects or if your condition does not improve.