Categorized | Health

$250 Medicare rebate may spark scams

MEDIA RELEASE

HONOLULU –The Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP Hawai‘i), a program in the State Executive Office on Aging, is alerting residents to scams that may try to profit off the federal government’s $250 rebate to Medicare Part D enrollees that reach the coverage gap in 2010.

Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the federal government will mail out $250 rebate checks to Part D drug plan enrollees after they enter the coverage gap or “donut hole” in 2010. Checks will begin rolling out in mid-June. This one-time-only rebate will continue throughout the year as Part D enrollees get to the donut hole. In Hawai‘i, roughly 16,500 Part D enrollees fell into the donut hole last year.

In Medicare Part D, a drug plan member falls into a “coverage gap” or “donut hole” after the plan’s payments plus the member’s share of drug costs add up to $2,380. In the coverage gap, the member pays the full cost of prescription drugs unless the member has Extra Help. Extra Help, also called Low- Income Subsidy (LIS), is financial assistance with drug plan costs for qualifying individuals. Part D enrollees with Extra Help will not reach the donut hole and will not receive the rebate.

Medicare will track drug plan costs for the period January 1-December 31, 2010 and will mail a one-timeonly $250 check to Part D enrollees automatically if they qualify for the rebate.

SMP Hawai‘i points out that scammers have seized upon government benefits as opportunities for victimizing citizens, as with the “Cash-For-Clunkers” and “Economic Recovery” programs. As for the $250 Medicare rebate, SMP Hawai‘i wants residents to be aware of scams that might take the following forms:

  • Persons that telephone, email, or come to your door and offer to help you get your rebate check, if you pay a fee. This is a scam. You will get your rebate check automatically, within 45 days after you reach the coverage gap. No forms to fill out. No fees to pay.
  • Persons that say they are from the government and ask for your Medicare number or Social Security number in order to make sure you get your rebate check. This is a trick to steal your Medicare and Social Security benefits. The government already has this information.
  • Persons that ask you for your bank account number in order to deposit the rebate check into your bank account. They want to clean out your bank account. There is no direct deposit. If you qualify for the rebate, the federal government will issue a paper check made out to you. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will mail the check to you at the address the Social Security Administration has for you. Look for the HHS logo on the envelope.
  • Persons that use the $250 rebate to mislead you into buying an insurance plan. Watch out for fraudsters that try to sign you up for what they say is a new government health care plan called “Obamacare.” It does not exist.

Information about the $250 rebate check and scam activity can be found on the SMP Resource Center website at www.smpresource.org and www.healthreform.gov/fraud.html

The Senior Medicare Patrol is a national program, established in 1997 and funded by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. The program trains retired professionals to educate seniors about health care fraud.

SMP Hawai‘i encourages residents to report suspicious activity related to the $250 rebate check to any of the following government entities:

Medicare 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227)
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Fraud Hotline (1-800-447-8477)
State Department of the Attorney General (808) 586-1500
Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP Hawaii) 586-7281 or 1-800-296-9422

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