Preventing Medicare Fraud Among Senior Citizens

HARRISONBURG -- Senior citizens in the Valley describe Medicare as helpful, but there are a few things they need to look out for to prevent Medicare fraud. According to the Office of Inspector General with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services last year, they found that a quarter of all Medicare payments to nursing homes are made in error.

"It helps out because a lot of people when they retire they don't have a whole lot of money," said Larry Hinkel, a Shenandoah County resident.

Hilda Yager, a Page County resident, has one complaint about Medicare.

"They don't pay, they're cutting back, they don't pay as much," said Yager.

A recent report released by the Federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services points out that among 3,300 hospitals nationwide,
Medicare and Medicaid charges vary widely in different cities and states.

"Sometimes they do get billed and they are not billed correctly," said Karen Barnes, a Medicare insurance counselor with Valley Program for Aging Services.

Barnes warned senior citizens to check their bills.

"I just check, make sure it's always right," said Reva Beeden, a senior citizen who says she always checks her bill.

Barnes has more tips for senior citizens to prevent Medicare fraud, not just on bills.

"We tell people never to give their Medicare number over the phone to anybody that calls," said Barnes.

For senior citizens, Barnes says one of the most important things is for family members to be more involved.

"We really tell people that's another way of preventing any kind of problems in the systems, in the billing and payment. by families kind of knowing what's going on," said Barnes.

Barnes also advises senior citizens to ask if their medical procedure is Medicare approved upfront, so as to avoid any confusion when the bill arrives.


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