Medicare fraud is big business for criminals. Medicare loses approximately $60 billion annually due to fraud, errors and abuse. When thieves steal from Medicare, there is less money for the healthcare we really need.
With our state’s senior population growing at a rapid rate, protecting kūpuna against the threat of Medicare fraud and abuse is essential. More than 10,000 Americans turn 65 each day, becoming eligible for Medicare as they blow out their birthday candles. As of 2020, one in four Hawai‘i residents is 65 or older, with this population growing at an annual rate of 17%. Hawai’i also has the highest life expectancy in the country, with an average of 83.1 years of age. Together, these facts mean that by 2030, a third of Hawai’i’s total population will be Medicare eligible.
During my 12-plus years in the Medicare health insurance field, I have talked to many people aging into Medicare. In our discussions, I am consistently told that they never get sick and take few drugs, so they are just looking for the cheapest plan. I am always surprised, because I have noticed that health problems tend to manifest as seniors move into their 60s, 70s and beyond.
Protect your identity and help prevent healthcare fraud by guarding your Medicare card like you would a credit card. Scammers are expanding their targets, especially kūpuna, and they can be very convincing. A fraudster recently contacted a Honolulu resident, stating the resident’s name and date of birth. The con artist then offered to replace the resident’s Medicare card if he would share his Social Security Number. Luckily, the resident did not cooperate with this scammer.
If you are considering a donation to a charity during this season of giving, Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) Hawaii warns you to be wary. Charities use the phone, face-to-face contact, email and the internet — and so do scammers. The Federal Trade Commission, an SMP partner, offers these tips to keep you safe from scammers.
Every year, Hawai‘i residents are swindled out of money through many forms of crime. The Federal Trade Commission estimates that 2.4 billion robocalls made every month. Over 3,500,000 older adults are swindled out of nearly $5 billion in personal savings each year. The average loss is $34,200-plus for every senior who falls victim to a scam. More than $17 million per year are lost to internet crimes (2021) — and cases are expected to rise by 10 percent this year.
Kūpuna are the most vulnerable to online scams due to social isolation during the pandemic. We must stay vigilant, as scammers use more sophisticated ways to steal your personal identity, shame you of your self-worth and steal your life’s legacy. Here are some important tips to avoid becoming a victim…
We’re home, still feeling isolated during the pandemic. The phone rings; a welcomed sound. We look forward to hearing from a family member or friend — a warm voice to spend time with. We answer the phone, and minutes later, our whole life is turned upside down. Does this sound familiar? Too often, unfortunately, many of our kūpuna fall victim to scammers who want their health, financial or other personal information.