OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Insurance Department (OID)’s Medicare Assistance Program (MAP) warns about rising cases of Medicare fraud across the state. Recent cases of fraud focus on COVID-19 test kits and self-catheter kits.
COVID-19 Test Kit Fraud
With the end of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, test kits are no longer available for free after May 11, 2023. Scammers began taking advantage of Medicare beneficiaries by sending at-home COVID-19 test kits and billing Medicare for the test they never requested. Also, many beneficiaries have seen charges on their Medicare Summary Notices (MSNs) for COVID-19 tests they have yet to receive, with cases ranging from individual test kits to bulk shipments.
Since June, the MAP has received over 55 calls reporting this issue, leading to 276 unrequested COVID-19 test kits. The cumulative impact remains significant despite not every test kit leading to Medicare payment. At an approximate rate of $94 per test kit, the total payment by Medicare is estimated to exceed $18,000.
Self-Catheter Kit Fraud
Medicare recipients also reported urinary catheters being billed to Medicare when they don’t have a medical diagnosis that requires these medical supplies. The monetary implications are substantial, with Medicare being charged nearly $3,000 for each beneficiary allegedly receiving these unneeded catheters.
How to Protect Yourself from Fraud
The OID’s MAP division is available to help all Oklahomans prevent, detect and report Medicare fraud. The MAP Director Ray Walker encourages Medicare beneficiaries, their families and caregivers to contact his division immediately if they see suspicious activity, such as billing for unwanted and unnecessary at-home COVID-19 tests or other items and services they didn’t receive.
“Unfortunately, the pandemic provided fraudsters with many opportunities to take advantage of Medicare beneficiaries to benefit themselves,” said Walker. “We are actively working with State and Federal partners to detect and fight these new, emerging scams.”
Medicare allows claims to be submitted up to 12 months after receiving an item or service receipt. This results in charges showing up on MSNs for alleged medical services and equipment from months earlier. The MAP counselors can help beneficiaries determine a course of action to address their situation and report the potential fraud to the proper authorities.
MAP is a division of the Oklahoma Insurance Department, funded by grants through the Administration for Community Living, Office of Healthcare Information and Counseling. The Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) grant provides funding to educate beneficiaries and their family members on ways to prevent Medicare fraud, as well as how to report potential fraud. MAP also provides one-on-one counseling and information for people eligible for Medicare. All services are free, unbiased and confidential. MAP empowers and assists Medicare beneficiaries, their families, and caregivers to make informed Medicare decisions and ways to protect their Medicare identity.
If you suspect you or a loved one is a victim of Medicare fraud or abuse, please get in touch with the OID’s MAP division at (800) 763-2828 or visit MAP.OID.OK.GOV.