Iowa Senior Medicare Patrol Newsletter, July 2014

July, 2014 Monthly News You Can Use

Say It’s Not True!  My Medical Records in Someone’s Driveway?

          The U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services (DHHS) announced last month that an Ohio health care system was fined $800,000 for exposing over 70 cardboard boxes of patients’ medical records.   They delivered  and unloaded them in a doctor’s home driveway and left the boxes unattended.  The health care system had reviewed thousands of these patient records when they were considering buying the retiring doctor’s practice.  The driveway where they were left was 20 feet from a public road and close to a major shopping area.   

            There are laws and regulations that require health care providers to notify patients if their personal medical records have been or may have been exposed to persons not authorized to view them.  If you receive such a notice, it will contain information about what you should know.  Most of us would never imagine that our private records could be sitting in someone’s driveway but if it happened once it can happen again. 

            Everyone on Medicare or any type of health insurance should read their Medicare Summary Notice or explanation of benefit statements every time you receive one!  You should check off each service that was paid for to verify it was a service you actually had.  If someone steals your medical records they would get access to all the information they’d need to send in fake insurance claims to try to get paid.  If you see that Medicare or your insurance paid for something you didn’t have, you should call your medical provider right away.  If you think someone might be using your Medicare number, call Iowa Senior Medicare Patrol at -800-423-2449.  

Source:  www.hhs.gov/news/press/2014pres/06/20140623a.html    

AARP Fraud Watch Network Latest Tip

            The latest news from AARP about a widespread scam describes a new twist on the robocalls offering a free medical alert device.  The pre-recorded calls have been all around the country for several months and the Federal Trade Commission is pursuing actions against companies who are breaking laws and regulations by making these calls.  In the meantime scammers are trying new angles.  The AARP Fraud Watch Network reports that callers are now offering $3,000 in coupons if you sign up for the “free” device or callers are claiming that AARP is offering the medical alert devices.  But the bottom line is that the callers are trying to get your credit card information.   If a scammer is successful in getting your credit card number from you, you should contact your credit card company immediately.  Read more at www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/fraud-watch-network/  

Tips for Protecting Your Loved Ones in Nursing Facilities from Scams

            Even persons living in protected settings like assisted living or nursing facilities can fall prey to  scammers.  Scam attempts can be made via the phone, mail or computer email or Internet usage.  The “Consumer Financial Protection Bureau” has just released  a guide for use by facility staff and family caregivers,  “Protecting Residents from Financial Exploitation.”   In addition to much information about financial exploitation, it contains a section about frauds often targeted at frail older persons.  The information can help you recognize a potential problem and suggests ways you can help the victim in a way that protects their dignity and optimal level of independence. 

            You can find the guide at http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201406_cfpb_guide_protecting-residents-from-financial-exploitation.pdf.   Or you can go to www.consumerfinance.gov and search using the publication title. 

  • News prepared by Deb Yankey, Iowa Senior Medicare Patrol Coordinator, Northeast Iowa Area Agency on Aging (NEI3A), Waterloo, IA,  dyankey@nei3a.org

This document was supported, in part, by Grant #90MP0161-03, from the Administration for Community Living/Administration on Aging, Department of Health and Human Services.  Grantees undertaking projects under government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions.  Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official Administration on Aging policy.     

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