Talking to Your Patients about Healthcare Fraud
Last year, CMS removed Social Security numbers from all Medicare cards, transitioning Medicare beneficiaries to new cards with a more secure Medicare number. Even with this change, though, people with Medicare should still be reminded to guard their Medicare card like a credit card, check Medicare claims summary forms for errors, and be wary of unsolicited requests for their Medicare number.
Nurses are in a unique position to help Medicare beneficiaries protect themselves against healthcare fraud. Consider taking some time to talk with your patients – especially your elderly patients who are at increased risk from health care scammers.
Remind patients that there are always scams involving health care and that there are people who will try to steal a Medicare number to submit fraudulent claims to Medicare. It can be helpful to remind patients of these tips as well:
- Never accept medical supplies from a door-to-door salesman. If someone comes to your door claiming to be from Medicare, remember that Medicare and Medicaid do not send representatives to your home.
- Medicare will never call beneficiaries to ask for or check Medicare numbers.
- Never give your Medicare card, Medicare number, Social Security card, or Social Security number to anyone except your doctor or people you know should have it.
- Remember, nothing is ever “free.” Never accept offers of money or gifts for free medical care.
- Be wary of providers who tell you that the item or service isn’t usually covered, but they “know how to bill Medicare” so Medicare will pay.
- Always check your medications before leaving the pharmacy to be sure you received the correct medication prescribed, including whether it’s a brand or generic name. If you don’t get your prescription filled correctly, report the problem to the pharmacist.
Here are some other resources you can provide to your patients if they suspected instances of fraud:
- OIG Hotline
- Medicare’s toll-free customer service operations at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).
There are countless tasks a nurse does in a day and adding more to your plate can feel overwhelming. But as patient advocates, nurses never truly know the countless ways they impact their patients. One small mention about protecting a Medicare card or sharing one of the above tips could protect a patient from the hassle and cost of healthcare fraud. Don’t think of it as more work – think of it as another opportunity to connect with and protect the patients you work so tirelessly for.
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