By Shantanu Agrawal, M.D., Deputy Administrator and Director, Center for Program Integrity
Fight health care fraud: guard your Medicare number!
The next Medicare Open Enrollment season (October 15 to December 7) is almost here, which means fraudsters and identity thieves will increase their efforts to get and abuse Medicare numbers from people like you.
Fortunately, there are many measures you can take to fight health care fraud:
- Guard your Medicare number. Protect it the same way you do for your credit card numbers. Medicare will never contact you for your Medicare number or other personal information. Don’t share your Medicare number or other personal information with anyone who contacts you by phone, email or by approaching you in person, unless you’ve given them permission in advance.
- Don’t ever let anyone borrow or pay to use your Medicare number.
- If you’re looking to enroll in a Medicare plan, be suspicious of anyone who pressures you to act now for the best deal. There are no “early bird discounts” or “limited time offers”. Any offer that sounds too good to be true probably is.
- Be skeptical of free gifts and free medical services. A common ploy of identity thieves is to say they can send you your free gift right away—they just need your Medicare number to confirm. Decline politely but firmly. Remember, it’s not rude to be shrewd!
- Do your part to protect your friends and neighbors: remind them to guard their Medicare numbers, too.
- Check your Medicare Summary Notice (MSN) to make sure you and Medicare are only being charged for services you actually had. Instead of waiting for the MSN, which comes in the mail every 3 months, you can access your Original Medicare claims at MyMedicare.gov. You’ll usually be able to see a claim within 24 hours after Medicare processes it.
You can report suspected fraud by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048. To learn more about how to protect yourself from health care fraud, visit Medicare.gov or contact your local Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP). To find the SMP in your state, go to the SMP Locator at Smpresource.org.