How To Avoid Being A Target For Healthcare Scams
By Ellen Sullivan
With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act comes a rising number of consumer complaints of scams. Sadly, of particular target is the elderly. That being said, anyone can get scammed. With all of the problems with the healthcare.gov website, the confusing regulations and the sense of urgency that the government is trying to create – it is a perfect storm for scammers to be out on the prowl ready to entice you to depart with your hard earned dollars.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in its guide “Suspect a Health Care Scam” Here’s What To Do” they list the following scams:
Charging you for help getting new insurance -Someone contacts you, offering to help you navigate the Health Insurance Marketplace for a fee or saying that you need a new insurance card now or you’ll have to pay a penalty. Regardless of the set-up, their goal is to get your bank account or credit card number.
- The FTC suggests never giving information OR money to anyone contacting you saying that they will help you. The government has hired “Navigators” to help – but they will never charge you for their service.
Medicare Cards or “Obamacare Cards” – If someone calls and says you need a new Medicare Card or an “Obamacare” card – it is a scam. Everyone keeps their Medicare card – nothing changes and there is no “Obamacare Card.
- The FTC suggests to not give any personal information, no financial information or your social security number. When in doubt, call 1-800-MEDICARE before giving any information at all.
Medical Discount Plans – There are such things as Medical Discount Plans but they are NOT health insurance. These plans may have a network of healthcare providers and services, are legit and may meet a certain need. Some others do not deliver on what they promise. The scam artist may try to tell you that a plan will save you money while trying to obtain your personal and financial information.
- Be sure you understand and fully check this out – as some want to use your information for the purposes of identity theft.
Some contacts you and says “I’m From The Government” – No one connected with the government will contact you about your health insurance. No one should get in touch with you in any fashion saying they can help you obtain health insurance. You may receive a letter, but no one will ask for your personal information, financial information, social security number or bank account information. Some may ask for a wire transfer of money. If someone does any of this, it is a scam.
What should you do if contacted like this? Report it!
How to report a scam? Call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or go to ftc.gov/complaint. If you report – it will help give the FTC the information it needs to launch investigations, and put scam artists out of business.
What are some of the routine medical tests for seniors?
A wide range of screening and preventive measures are available and recommended for people over the age of 65. These guidelines follow the recommendations by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and are based on extensive clinical data.
The following lists some of the important preventive and screening measures for seniors.
Vaccination against shingles (60 and older; some doctors recommend starting at age 50)
Colon cancer screening for adults between ages 50 and 75 (younger starting age in high risk groups)
Breast cancer screening with yearly mammogram for females between 40 and 75 (younger starting age for high risk groups)
Prostate cancer screening with annual rectal exam and PSA (prostate sensitive antigen) in males above age 50
Osteoporosis screening with bone density scan in women above age of 65
Lipid disorder screening yearly for men above 35 and women above 45
Diabetes screening in people with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, or previous high blood sugar levels with or without symptoms of diabetes
Blood pressure screening at least once a year
Smoking cessation counseling