Guard your card: Protect yourself and Medicare from fraud

Treat your Medicare Number like a credit card number and be wary of anyone asking for it.

Each year, during Medicare’s Open Enrollment period, Medicare recipients evaluate their Medicare coverage:

  • Medicare Advantage
  • Part D
  • Original Medicare

As you shop for Medicare plans, you only need to give your name and address to learn more about a plan. However, you can quickly become a victim of fraud if you give out your Medicare Number. Before you know it, your plan can be changed without permission.

HAP is here, reminding you to protect your Medicare Number.

Treat your Medicare card and number like a credit card number. Only give it out if you sign up in a new Medicare plan or to doctors and providers for care. Be careful when others ask for your Medicare Number or offer free services if you give it. Never give out your Medicare Number over the phone to unknown or unexpected callers.

What’s Medicare fraud?

Medicare fraud is when people or companies get payments from Medicare under false or illegal pretenses. Anyone can commit or be involved in fraud, such as doctors, providers, and even Medicare recipients.

Fraud victims face fiscal liability and compromised medical and insurance records. This can set the stage for problems in the future, making it essential to protect yourself against Medicare fraud. A fraudulent act done in your name may not impact you right away. It can become a big problem at the point of your greatest need.

How can a doctor commit Medicare fraud?

If they:

  • Bill Medicare for care you never received
  • Bill Medicare for services other than what you received
  • Keep billing Medicare for rented medical equipment after you turned it in
  • Offer or do services you don’t need
  • Tell you Medicare will pay for things it won’t
  • Use some other person’s Medicare Number or card

Ways to stop Medicare fraud

  1. Guard your card. Only give your Medicare Number to doctors, pharmacists, your insurers, or people you trust to work with Medicare on your behalf.
  2. Protect your medical information. Be careful if people other than doctors or medical experts want to see your medical records or suggest services.
  3. Learn more about Medicare’s coverage rules. Be careful if a doctor tells you there’s a way for Medicare to cover a service not often covered.
  4. Don’t get services you don’t need. If a doctor urges you to get tests or other services you feel aren’t needed, say “no, thank you.” Get a second opinion from another doctor.
  5. Be skeptical. It doesn’t hurt to be wary if a doctor says Medicare will pay for services that don’t seem needed for good health. Mud treatments, Swedish massages, and dance classes are examples of fraudulent services in past cases. Use your best sense and see Medicare’s coverage rules.

Learn more

Watch the video, “Look out for enrollment fraud,” from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).