What would you do if someone called to offer you a free healthcare product that sounded as if it might help you? In the event that you experience regular discomfort or pain, you might jump at the opportunity to try something that might bring relief – especially if this person promises to handle all Medicare billing for you.

You’d be in good company. The National Health Care Anti-Fraud Association reports that con artists are scamming the system for billions of dollars each year. While private health care systems can also be targeted, many of these incidents involve Medicare. As you move into retirement, knowing the signs of Medicare fraud can save you a lot of trouble (and sometimes money).

The latest scam involves call centers, whose operators call you up to offer orthopedic braces for various aches and pains. If you express interest, you are forwarded to another call center which verifies your Medicare benefits and then prescribes the brace over the phone.

Medicare is billed with false claims, and the money is often laundered overseas. So far, 1.2 billion has been stolen from Medicare via this scam. But it’s not just braces; any type of cold call could be a sign of a health care con job.

What are the signs of such a scam?

  • “Free” offers, especially when you didn’t request information on the product or service
  • A cash payment or gift in return for receiving some type of health care
  • Medicare “representatives” who show up at your doorstep (they are not from Medicare)
  • Unfamiliar items on your Medicare statements

And of course, always keep your Medicare card in a secure location. If stolen, thieves can use the information on it to commit fraud.

Even if you are never targeted by a con artist, health care can simply be expensive throughout retirement. Remember to meet with us regularly to examine your budget and make necessary adjustments to your retirement plan.