MEDICARE BENEFICIARIES WARNED ABOUT DRUG CARD SCAMS
Overview: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services approved 48 general drug discount cards, including 27 available nationally to all eligible Medicare beneficiaries beginning June 1. With the new cards, Medicare beneficiaries will receive discounts on prescription drugs, and low-income beneficiaries may receive an additional $600 credit to help pay for their prescription medicines in both 2004 and 2005.
The competition between organizations offering cards -- as well as the public display of the prices the cards offer for prescription medicines – is expected to help drive down prices so that seniors get the best savings on their medicines. HHS is offering several tools to help seniors compare and choose the cards providing the best savings when they become available.
But with the announcement of the drug card program, a number of potential drug card scams have arisen in various parts of the U.S. The Department’s Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Office of Inspector General are warning Medicare beneficiaries and their family members to be cautious when being approached to buy a drug discount card.
Beneficiaries should NEVER share personal information such as their bank account number, social security number or health insurance card number (or Medicare number) with any individual who calls or comes to the door claiming to sell ANY Medicare related product. If fraud is suspected, the beneficiary should call 1-800-MEDICARE, the OIG Fraud Hotline at 1-800-447-8477 or a local law enforcement agency (such as the police).
Medicare-approved drug discount card program
All card programs approved by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)
will bear the Medicare Rx seal.
Marketing for the Medicare-approved drug discount card program will begin in early May and enrollment in these card programs will begin in May 2004. Card sponsors will advertise their cards on television, radio, newspapers and direct mail. Approved card sponsors will not conduct any cold-calls, therefore, no individual should receive a call from a card sponsor unless they have requested further information from an ad or direct mail piece.
Potential Scams and what to do about them
Although the Medicare-Approved Prescription Drug Discount Card program has not yet been implemented, some Medicare beneficiaries across the country (Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Maryland, Nebraska, New York, Rhode Island, Virginia) have already received calls as well as in-person solicitations from individuals/companies posing as Medicare officials attempting to gain personal information from beneficiaries with the intent to scam the beneficiaries.
Beneficiaries who are contacted by these false card companies should always remember:
Helping to fight fake cards
In response to these concerns, CMS is:
Working closely with the Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Office of the Inspector General as well as other agencies that have dealt with issues of prescription drug fraud.