Medicare beneficiaries: beware of testing fraud

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The Executive Office on Aging (EOA) issued a warning about scammers who offer free genetic testing to extract Medicare numbers. These tests are commonly presented as DNA screenings, cancer screenings, and hereditary tests.

Scammers go to senior centers, senior housing facilities, health fairs, and even parking lots to convince people to take a cheek swab for testing. They also advertise on TV and online. They look like official company representatives, and claim the tests will help you avoid diseases.

In reality, however, these scams lead to identity theft. Senior Medicare Patrol manager Kaipo Cullen said, “These companies can steal people’s medical identity and falsely bill Medicare, draining the system of needed funds.”

The Office of Inspector General issued a fraud alert last week, advising people to be suspicious of anyone who offers free testing in exchange for their Medicare number.

“A doctor who has never met or examined a patient, often hired by a genetic testing company, should not be signing off on any tests. That’s a red flag,” said Cullen.

Here are some other helpful tips:

  • Refuse to give out your personal information or accept screening services, including a cheek swab, from someone at a community event, a local fair, a farmer’s market, a parking lot, and/or any other large event.
  • Go to your doctor to assess your condition, not a doctor you’ve never met from a company you don’t know.
  • Always read your Medicare Summary Notice (MSN) or Explanation of Benefits (EOB). The words “gene analysis” or “molecular pathology” are red flags for questionable genetic testing.
  • Refuse the delivery of any genetic testing kit that was not ordered by your physician.
  • Be suspicious of anyone who offers free genetic testing and then requests your Medicare number. If your personal information is compromised, it may be used in other fraud schemes.
  • Contact your local SMP for help. SMPs empower and assist Medicare beneficiaries, their families, and caregivers to prevent, detect, and report health care fraud, errors, and abuse.
  • If anyone other than your physician requests your Medicare information, do not provide it.
  • If you suspect Medicare fraud, contact the HHS OIG Hotline.

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