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.

By 2037, more than 500,000 residents will be eligible for Medicare in Hawai‘i. Current figures show 295,405 enrolled in the program.

This population shift has huge economic impacts. Hospital and drug costs are expected to exceed $1 trillion nationwide by the end of 2022. Medicare loses $70 billion annually to fraudulent claims — a serious potential solvency issue.

Online scams have already caused a loss of over $17 million in Hawai‘i. To combat Medicare fraud and abuse, the federal government continues to lean on the Hawai‘i Senior Medicare Patrol, or SMP Hawai’i.

This 25-year-old program is administered by the Hawai’i State Department of Health, Executive Office on Aging. Relying heavily on volunteers, its programs empower and assist Medicare beneficiaries, their families and caregivers to take steps to prevent, detect and report healthcare fraud, errors and abuse.

SMP Hawaii services include outreach, counseling and education.

Inquiries or concerns about non-healthcare fraud and abuse are referred to appropriate agencies. These might include scams related to investment, romance, caregivers, gift cards, imposters, Social Security benefits, wire transfers, ransomware, phishing, spoofing, agent misconduct, genetic testing, COVID test kits and more.

Kūpuna worked hard to accrue assets meant to sustain them into old age. Losing these to scams can be devastating. Arming kūpuna and their families with information is therefore critical, as knowledge is the best deterrent against fraudsters.

Department of Health — Executive Office on Aging
250 S. Hotel St., Ste. 406, Honolulu, HI 96813
808-586-7281 | Toll Free: 1-800-296-9422
info@smphawaii.org | smphawaii.org
Facebook: smphawaii808
This project was supported in part by grant number 90MPPG0053 from the US Administration for Community Living (ACL), Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, DC, 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 ACL policy. The Hawai‘i Department of Health – Executive Office on Aging has administered SMP Hawaii since 1997.