by Jae Oh, CFP
COVID-19 is affecting the Medicare population, with people greater than 60 years old representing a significant high-risk category. With the public health concern associated with COVID-19, Medicare beneficiaries have been specifically targeted with offers of COVID-related tests or supplies.
While your Medicare card no longer displays your Social Security number, there are other fraud schemes that can still use your medical identity. Medical identity theft can result in unlawful claims, treatment, prescriptions or medical devices, under your name. It can be very time-consuming and costly to resolve medical identity theft: the protections against credit-card charges are limited to $50, there is no such limit under fraudulent charges that result from medical identity theft.
The bottom line is that Medicare will not place an unsolicited call to you. That means:
- Beneficiaries should be cautious of unsolicited requests for their Medicare or Medicaid numbers.
- Unsolicited offers of COVID-19 tests or supplies should be treated with suspicion. While your Medicare card no longer displays your Social Security number, there are other fraud schemes that can still use your medical identity.
- A physician or other trusted healthcare provider should assess your condition and approve any requests for COVID-19 testing. Medicare will cover COVID-19 testing, but only those accompanied by a healthcare provider’s order.
- Do not give your personal or financial information to anyone claiming to offer HHS grants related to COVID-19.
- Legitimate contact tracers will never ask for your Medicare number or financial information.
During this extraordinary public health situation, it can be tempting to accept offers to help, but you should use your common sense and remember that unsolicited requests for personal, private information should be handled with great caution.