Beware of Medicare DNA, cancer screening scams

Date: May 1, 2019 | Category: News

The Missouri (SMP) Senior Medicare Patrol is advising older adults to be wary of providers who offer free DNA, genetic or cancer testing in exchange for patients’ Medicare information.
The Missouri SMP, which empowers seniors to prevent Medicare fraud, has received reports of salespeople going door to door in senior housing units to offer cancer screenings that test DNA and genetics.
Out-of-the-blue genetic or DNA testing is not free and is not routinely covered for all Medicare patients, said Rona McNally, Director of the Missouri SMP.
“If an individual offers you or someone you know such services, do not go along with it,” McNally said. “Once scammers get ahold of your Medicare and/or other personal information, they can sell it to others or commit more Medicare fraud under your identity.”
Here is how the scheme works: A provider offers an educational session to a group of seniors at a church, senior housing complex or senior center or goes door to door with the offer. The provider takes the participants’ Medicare numbers and does DNA swabs. The provider then bills Medicare for the services, which have not been deemed medically necessary and do not have a referral from a primary doctor. Providing contact information or anything else during an education session is optional, and sign-up sheets should clearly state this, McNally said.
Sometimes, a deceitful provider calls seniors on the phone and offers free DNA tests to be sent by mail. The older adults are instructed to swab their cheeks at home and return the kits. The caller gets the seniors’ Medicare numbers and emphasizes there will be no charge to the beneficiaries.
Medicare fraud, errors and abuse cost the federal government about $60 billion annually – a burden shared by all U.S. taxpayers.
The DNA and genetic testing schemes are the most recent in a series of Medicare scams that federal fraud investigators have been tracking.
DNA testing is legitimately used by doctors at times to help determine how effective some medications might be in treating some patients and can be used to determine a patient’s potential risk of cancer.
However, patients should ask their primary care doctors or specialists, who are familiar with their medical history, about such tests.
“Your primary doctor or trusted specialist is the best resource in helping you decide which tests would benefit you,” McNally said.
Medicare beneficiaries who believe they have been victim of such fraud should report suspected Medicare fraud to the Missouri SMP at 1-888-515-6565.
This project was supported, in part by grant number 90MPPG0040, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects under government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official Administration for Community Living policy.