Medicare fraud costs taxpayers $60 billion annually and puts beneficiaries’ health and welfare at risk. The impact of these losses and risks magnifies as Medicare continues to serve a growing number of older Americans. Thankfully, Senior Medicare Patrols (SMPs) are here to assist the public to detect and prevent health care fraud.

Brenda Munson, coordinator of volunteers for the North Dakota Senior Medicare Patrol (ND SMP) stated, “I have seen first-hand the devastation seniors feel when they realize they have been duped, both emotionally and financially.”

Funded by the US Administration for Community Living (ACL), each state and territory has an SMP to provide free statewide services and education to Medicare beneficiaries, their families, and care givers on how to prevent, detect, and report Medicare/healthcare fraud and avoid victimization. SMPs rely on a core of committed volunteers across their states to assist older adults to avoid fraud.

The North Dakota SMP is located at the North Dakota Center for Persons with Disabilities (NDCPD) on the campus of Minot State University. Senior Health Information & Insurance Education (SHIINE) is South Dakota’s SMP and has eastern, central, and western regions across the state.

SMP staff and trained volunteers are available to assist individual beneficiaries by answering questions about potential scam calls, educating on reviewing Medicare Summary Notices (MSNs) for accuracy, and assisting with detecting and addressing potential Medicare fraud and current scams. Munson reports that fraudsters are diligently working to get Medicare numbers and other personal information from beneficiaries.

Current Scam: New Medicare Card 

Medicare does NOT call beneficiaries. A current scam has the caller telling the beneficiary that due to COVID-19, a new Medicare card is being issued and their current card will be deactivated in three days. The caller says he needs to confirm a couple of things before sending the new card, and then asks for the person’s Medicare number and enrollment dates on the card.

Even with the rollout of the new unique identifier Medicare card beginning in 2018, scam artists still want those numbers for fraudulent purposes. The only way to stay ahead of the scam artists is by educating the public about the importance of maintaining the integrity of personal information, which includes Medicare numbers, Social Security numbers and banking information.

SMPs are available to do presentations about Medicare fraud, current scams targeting older citizens, and ways to avoid being a victim of fraud. SMP also exhibits at community health fairs and senior events. Please contact the North Dakota SMP or SHINE to learn more about preventing Medicare fraud and abuse.