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NH Seniors Urged to Fight $70+ Billion Problem: Medicare Fraud

August 22, 2012

CONCORD, N.H. - It could be a dishonest health-care provider or a con artist on the phone. Either way, New Hampshire seniors are being taught how to defend themselves against Medicare fraud.

Harold Moldoff, a volunteer "fraud fighter" with AARP New Hampshire, advises seniors to make note of each doctor appointment and to always check their Medicare and insurance statements afterward. If a charge shows up that shouldn't be there, follow up on it. Those small steps, he says, can help locals combat a major national problem.

"Somewhere between $70 billion and $80 billion a year; this is money that's, in effect, coming out of their pockets - and that money that should go back into Medicare benefits."

AARP's Fraud Fighters team met with seniors in Litchfield last week. Even in a small state such as New Hampshire, Moldoff points out that about 180,000 seniors use Medicare. That makes them potential targets for scammers, trying to profit illegally from the $1.6 billion that flows to the state for services each year.

Moldoff suggests that seniors think of the three Rs to combat Medicare fraud: Record, Recognize and Report.

"Don't be accusatory, but find out from your provider exactly what those costs that are being billed are for. If they don't get a response that's satisfactory, we urge them to follow up."

Moldoff notes that Medicare does not make house calls. He also cautions New Hampshire seniors to be on guard against unsolicited telephone calls, which often are scams.

"Phone calls that purportedly come from Medicare, trying to get their Medicare numbers, or to provide them with equipment or supplies that perhaps they don't really need."

Those who suspect fraud can contact Medicare at 800-MEDICARE or New Hampshire Service Link at 866-634-9412 or servicelink.org. To become a volunteer fraud fighter or learn more, contact AARP New Hampshire at nh@aarp.org.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NH