Medical Alert Scammers Exploit Medicare Loophole
By TLB Contributing Author: Sally Phillips
Retirement planning firm Link Financial has discovered that senior citizens in the US have been cheated out of more than $36 billion. Many of the victims are targeted by aggressive telemarketing scams promising in-home security with false offers for medical alert devices. Scammers exploit confusion caused by the broad problem of insufficient insurance coverage.
Homes receive telemarketing phone calls pressuring them into handing over personal information and often paying exorbitant prices and fees for medical alert services that never materialize. Despite the Affordable Care Act’s overhaul of healthcare in the US, Medicare still does not comprehensively cover in-home alert systems, leaving many retirees vulnerable to fraud.
“Breaking in” by phone
The Link Financial report’s reassessment of the fraud damages points to a disturbing lack of protection for the elderly. Fear tactics are often used in these calls purporting to sell emergency alert devices, intimidating seniors who have valid concerns about in-home safety, as these needs are often not met or not clearly indicated in their insurance coverage. Telemarketer tactics have stooped low enough as to use lines like, “Aren’t you scared that you’re going to fall and no one’s going to be there to help you out?”
Many of the recipients of the calls are not fully aware of the identity-theft risks of giving out banking, credit card or Social Security number information. Even without ever receiving the service devices, seniors subject to these scams have seen ongoing charges of $20-$30 per month and fees of up to $1,602. The government encourages people to report these calls via the FTC’s website, but this does not address the root of the problem.
A hole in the coverage
As is often the case, insurance coverage is not as clear-cut as it should be. An in-home medical alert device is not covered under basic Medicare. If it were as simple as “yes or no” on coverage, it would be clear when it would be advisable to independently obtain a reputable home alert system such as the device covered in this mobile help review. But the details of add-on programs complicate matters. Medicare Part C covers medical alert systems some of the time. This obliges consultation when looking into ordering an alert system. And that bureaucracy-induced requirement creates the vulnerability that the telemarketers exploit.
Until the health care system is cleaned up and gaps in coverage for basic items such as medical alert systems are closed, or at least made less complicated, the risks for scams like these and other openings for identity theft will remain. The best thing to do in the meantime is for you and your loved ones to be aware of the risk, and be prepared to report any of the scam calls that come your way.
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About the Author: Sally Phillips is an author and concerned citizen who feels it is her mission to make people aware of the facts behind the many issues they face in their daily lives.
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