First, a word of congratulations to the American Academy on its 20th anniversary, to be celebrated later this month in my own home base – the City of Brotherly Love. (And now to the blog…)
All seniors, including your clients, might as well be walking around with targets on their backs. They are all prospects for Medicare fraud, which can rob them during their lifetimes of their money, their time, and the high quality products and services that they expect. (See this NYT piece for a recent story.) In addition, it bilks taxpayers of $65 billion a year.
Medicare beneficiaries have long been attractive scam targets for many reasons, including that health insurance can be so darn complicated and convoluted that fraud is hard to spot. Here are some examples of common types of fraud to warn clients about:
- They receive an official-looking letter informing them of changes to their Medicare plan.
To receive more details they must send their personal information.
- They are offered a “free” health screening or massage if they provide their Medicare number.
- They are billed for services they never received.
- They receive the wrong medication or equipment via an internet purchase.
What can clients do if they suspect Medicare fraud? They can report it to their area Senior Medicare Patrol, where they will speak with a senior volunteer who has been trained to help them. This federally-financed program can help clients identify potential scams and actual fraud that has already occurred. Further, the Senior Medicare Patrol can cut through the red tape and connect clients with the organization that Medicare has contracted with to help beneficiaries rectify fraud. See this NYT piece for an example. (The DHHS Office of Inspector General and the FBI’s OIG also have Medicare fraud reporting systems.)
How can you help clients avoid being victims of Medicare fraud?
- Share with them a list of common fraud scams and how clients can protect themselves. Email me for a ready-to-use Client Tip Sheet.
- Share with them this Medicare anti-fraud video. (yes, Medicare has a you-tube channel)
- Contact your state’s Senior Medicare Patrol, which may also have pertinent information about local scams. A program member might even be available to speak at an event. (Marketing idea: Arrange a speaker as part of a community outreach session to attract prospects, an education session for existing clients and their adult children, or as part of your annual maintenance program or annual client appreciation day.)
Randi J. Siegel, MBA, is the President of DocuBank (docubank.com), the largest advance directives registry in the U.S., which ensures that the emergency information and healthcare directives of its 200,000 enrollees are immediately available 24/7/365. Working with estate planning professionals since 1997, Randi frequently speaks at national estate planning conferences and has appeared on radio and television as an authority on registries. A member of the Center for Advocacy for the Rights and Interests of the Elderly, the International Society of Advance Care Planning, and the Coalition to Transform Advanced Care, she is active in health education and public engagement related to advance care planning and advance directives and serves as Pennsylvania liaison to the National Healthcare Decisions Day initiative. Randi is an ongoing contributor to the Academy blog.
Academy Guest Blogger
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
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San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (858) 453-2128