Genetic testing has recently come into vogue helping people to uncover their heritage. However, according to the Senior Health Insurance and Information Program, scammers are now using genetic testing as a way to bilk thousands of dollars from the Medicare program.

These scammers may target Medicare beneficiaries over the phone, through the mail, or in-person at health fairs, farmer’s markets, county fairs, and senior meal site locations.

Aaron Ruskell, Community Resource Coordinator at Crawford County Memorial Hospital, says scammers typically tout the testing as “free” and “covered by Medicare.” In fact, screening and preventative genetic testing are not covered by Medicare except for one colorectal cancer screening product.

“Medicare does cover limited diagnostic and treatment related genetic testing when prescribed by the treating physician with the appropriate documentation of medical necessity,” Ruskell said.

Instead, scammers pressure Medicare recipients in-person or over the phone, to divulge important medical and financial information, which allows the scammers to submit fraudulent bills to Medicare.

According to SHIIP, one such Iowan was sent the screening testing kit and Medicare was billed over $34,000 for diagnostic testing using fraudulent coding and documentation.

Ruskell said if you are approached by someone selling these “free” Medicare services, do not sign up and don’t provide any personal information.

“These schemes work because the scammers play on the fears of Medicare beneficiaries,” Ruskell warned. “If anyone approaches you with these genetic testing services, don’t provide any personal information.”

Instead, Ruskell encourages anyone who thinks they’re being scammed to call him at 712-265-2500, and he will help make a report to the SHIIP offices at the Iowa Department of Public Health.

The mission of Crawford County Memorial Hospital is to provide efficient and effective health care services to all persons within Crawford County and the surrounding area. These services are available to persons who suffer from acute or chronic diseases, traumatic injuries, or who are in need of education and/or training in order to maintain a positive lifestyle.

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