SMP Complaint Trends

From 2021 to 2023 the three most common Medicare complaints related to fraud, errors, and abuse across our nation were:

  • Compromised Medicare Numbers,
  • Billing Errors, and 
  • Billing for Services not Provided. 

This trend held true in Iowa also, where we continued to see medical identity theft committed via the “New Medicare Card Scam.”

If you’re Medicare savvy, you might already know that the Medicare card that you receive when you begin receiving Medicare benefits is the card that you keep for the remainder of that time that you are on Medicare. However, if you’ve had Medicare for a long time, you might also remember that there was an instance when Medicare did send beneficiaries a new Medicare card. This is because originally Social Security Numbers were also used as Medicare numbers. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) realized that this put Medicare beneficiaries at an increased risk of multiple forms of identity theft. To address this issue Medicare created unique Medicare Beneficiary Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) numbers and mailed out updated cards.  This was all done from April 2018 to April 2019. Unfortunately, scammers continue to capitalize on this fact that at one time Medicare did send out new Medicare cards, and relentlessly target Medicare beneficiaries using several techniques. Scammers call beneficiaries claiming to be calling from Medicare and claiming that the beneficiary needs to provide their MBI because (a) their card is about to expire, (b) there is a new plastic Medicare card available, or (c) they’re just checking in to “verify” your MBI. 

Have You Experienced Medical Identity Theft?

Signs that your Medicare Number (or MBI) has been compromised, or that you may be a victim Medical Identity Theft, can appear in different ways. The most common symptom SMP saw of a compromised MBI in 2023 was through the discovery that a provider was Billing for Services not Provided.  A review of your statement of benefits from Medicare (or from you MA Plan) is the best way to identify if you have been billed for services not provided. In Iowa alone, nearly 240 complaints were reported for charges related to COVID-19 Test Kits. Iowans have also reported finding charges on their Medicare statements for Durable Medical Equipment (DME), Genetic Testing, Continuous Glucose Monitors, and Catheters.  If you see charges on your statement, for services not received, reach out to SHIIP-SMP at 1-800-351-4664.

Have You Received a Call from “Medicare” ?

Beware of callers who claim to be from Medicare—Medicare does not make calls to ask for your MBI (Medicare number) because they already have it. If Medicare has official business with you, they will correspond with you through official mail—just like any other government agency. If you have answered a call from someone claiming to be Medicare and provided them with personal information, like your MBI, SSN, date of birth, or health information, contact SHIIP-SMP at 1-800-351-4664.