Medicare Fraud

By Doug Mayberry

August 5, 2019 5 min read

Q: This year, I've been surrounded by requests for my DNA to do genetic testing for Medicare. I received phone calls and had door-to-door salesmen approach me, too, but both ways seemed like obvious fraud.

Now, I'm seeing more and more testing offered and am wondering if it's legitimate. There was even an event at my local senior center offering DNA cheek swabs for a cancer screening. I didn't end up going, but I know people who did.

Are these things safe?

A: No. Medicare states that DNA tests must be ordered by your physician and deemed medically necessary.

In June, the Office of Inspector General issued a fraud alert for unsolicited requests for Medicare numbers and DNA testing. Seniors are targeted by this scam and often don't know they're being taken advantage of.

Even seemingly above-board presentations can be scams. Scammers can convince the staff at senior centers to allow them to administer or promote testing if they seem legitimate enough.

Two major tests involved in scams are CGx, which looks for a genetic predisposition to cancer, and PGx, which tests for genetic mutations affecting your body's response to particular medications.

Although both tests show the great potential of preventive genetic health, you shouldn't respond to unsolicited requests. As medical advances become more popular, there are more people who see an opportunity to make a quick buck.

As an assistant inspector general for investigations, Shimon Richmond says: "If anyone calls you, or sends you an unsolicited request for your Medicare number or to convince you or scare you into taking a genetic test, either hang up the phone or say no."

If you receive a genetic testing kit in the mail from anyone other than your physician, refuse the delivery or return it to sender. Keep records of the sender's name and the date you return the item.

Instead, these solicitors look to make commissions from new clients, and you are unlikely to see your DNA results — or any analysis. Medicare ends up spending thousands of dollars for no benefit.

Other scammers might only be seeking your personal information for other types of identity fraud. To protect yourself, avoid giving your Medicare information to anyone but your physician's office.

If you'd like legitimate testing, call your primary care provider.

If you think you may have been affected by Medicare fraud, the Inspector General recommends you contact their online hotline or phone line at 1-800-HHS-TIPS. — Emma, Doug's granddaughter

SUMMER-CLEANING

Q: My home is crammed full of junk. My wife is notorious for hoarding things over the course of the year, only getting rid of things during her annual spring-cleaning.

She does an amazingly thorough job in April but then starts the process all over again! In the meantime, I have to learn to live in a cluttered home.

What can I change?

A: Cleaning is a matter of self-discipline and routine.

As your wife is good at getting rid of things but seems stuck in her cycle, the obvious solution seems to be more frequent deep cleans. Don't have only a spring-cleaning — have one for every season!

Having too much clutter in your home can be detrimental to your health. Clutter can potentially pose a falling hazard and makes it hard to access areas that collect filth.

Work on convincing your wife of the benefits of more regular cleanings and, most importantly, help out! An extra pair of hands will help make the task seem less onerous. — Doug

Doug Mayberry makes the most of life in a Southern California retirement community. Contact him at [email protected] Emma, Doug's granddaughter, helps write this column. To find out more about Doug Mayberry and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Photo credit: DarkoStojanovic at Pixabay

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