Senior Medicare Patrol Newsletter, February 2014

February, 2014 Monthly News You Can Use

Protect Yourself from Medicaid Fraud and Scams

            If you are covered by Medicaid health benefits, keep your eyes and ears open for scams that might affect your benefits.  The Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) has this advice:

  • “If a person approaches you and offers you free services, medical equipment, or money for your Medicaid number, just walk away and report it.” 
  • “Don’t share your personal information with anyone who says that they are from Medicaid and ask for payment over the phone.”
  • “Don’t share your information with anyone who comes to your home unexpected, wanting to sell something and says they would need your Medicaid number.” 

In their fall, 2013, “Iowa Medicaid Member Quarterly Newsletter” DHS says if you want to review what claims have been paid under your Medicaid number, you can request a report of claims by calling Member Services at 1-800-338-8366.  (In Des Moines call 515-256-4606.)  If your Medicaid card is lost or stolen, you should call that same number immediately.  If you suspect someone may be attempting to commit Medicaid fraud using your ID number, call the Medicaid fraud hotline at 1-800-831-1394.  

The New “One Ring” Cell Phone Scam

            The Better Business Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission just issued urgent warnings about the latest scam racing across the country.  It begins with a call to your cell phone from a number you don’t recognize.  You don’t have time to answer because they hang up after one ring. Naturally, you’ll be curious about who tried to reach you and wonder if it was an important call.  At this point, you should protect yourself by not returning the call!  The scam starts when you dial the number.  You’ll get billed for an international call at about $20 PLUS $9 per minute that you stay on the call.  The scammer gets you to stay on the line by playing recorded music or advertising. 

            The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Internet article, “”One-Ring Cell Phone Scam can Ding your Wallet,” (http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/one-ring-cell-phone-scam-can-ding-your-wallet)  warns that area codes commonly displayed on these calls are from 268, 284, 473, 664, 649, 767, 809, 829, 849 and 876.

            If you’re a victim of this scam, contact your cell phone carrier immediately, keep a close watch on your monthly statements and inform other persons who may be on your cell phone plan.  You can also register a complaint with the FTC at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov

Diabetic Testing Strips Resale

            It is not uncommon to see advertisements that invite you to sell your unused diabetic test strips for cash.   The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires “re-sale” businesses to register with their agency; if they don’t, they can be prosecuted or penalized.  Iowa Senior Medicare Patrol suggests you consider the following if you are thinking of selling unused test strips or buying resold diabetic test strips:

  • Why do you have unused strips?  Are you following your doctor’s instructions on how often you test your glucose?
    •  If you are following instructions, your medical supply company or pharmacy may be providing too many strips and Medicare may be losing money on the unused strips.  Ask your doctor for help in checking your current prescription to see if the amount of strips is correct.
    •  If you are not following your doctor’s instructions for testing, you should ask your doctor if it is safe to test less often then he/she recommends. 
  • Contact the FDA to see if the buyer is registered; the FDA can be reached at 1-800-332-1088.  Because you are not familiar with the buyer, you have no idea if they are legitimate if you don’t do some research.
  • Buying test strips from a resale company can be risky because you do not know if the strips have been stored and transported properly nor whether the expiration date is correct.  All of these variables can make the strips unsafe because your glucose reading may be wrong, causing you to endanger your health when you make decisions about your diet or dose of insulin.  
  • 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 #90MP0161-02, 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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