BATON ROUGE, La – From 2021 to 2022, fraud losses people 60 and older reported to the FBI increased 84%. This amounted to $3.1 billion in total losses. The average fraud victim lost more than $35,000. And, federal officials estimate that the Medicare program loses $60 billion each year because of fraud, waste and abuse.
During Medicare Fraud Prevention Week (June 5-11), Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is raising awareness of fraud risks. The insurer reminds everyone that the best way to fight fraud is to stop it from happening in the first place.
“As more older adults have fraud losses, it is very important that we all know how to spot fraud and fight it,” said Kandyce Cowart, Blue Cross Special Investigations manager. “From caregivers to family members to healthcare providers and their partners, we are all a strong defense in stopping scams. Here at Blue Cross, this is an initiative we take seriously.”
The National Health Care Anti-fraud Association recognized Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana as its 2022 “Excellence in Public Awareness” award winner. The award recognized the company’s work to raise awareness of healthcare fraud risks.
Blue Cross offers these tips to avoid fraud and common scams:
• Be suspicious whenever ANYONE asks you for money or for your personal, financial or health information. Be especially suspicious if it's unexpected or coming from a stranger. It's OK to ignore calls, emails, text messages, visits or other unwanted outreach – particularly if someone is making you uncomfortable or pressuring you to act quickly. Take time to think about it or talk to others.
• Scammers will claim to call from Medicare or your health plan, tell you there is a problem with your coverage, and ask you to confirm your information. If you get a cold call like this, do not answer. Contact your health plan with the Customer Service number on your member ID card to ask if you need to do anything.
• Scammers may claim to be from your healthcare provider's office or pharmacy and ask you for health information. Verify any outreach before giving your insurance coverage, payment information or other details. Be very wary if the person is asking about something you've never discussed with your provider or pharmacist.
• Do not accept offers to have pills, creams, foot baths, braces or other health supplies sent to you without talking to your healthcare provider. If these items show up at your home and you didn’t order them, don’t use them. This is also true if you get COVID-19 tests mailed to you that you didn’t order.
• If someone you’ve only met online asks you for money or personal information, it’s a red flag.
• Scammers often try pretending to be someone you know, like a grandchild or other relative. They'll use tactics such as being stranded in another country or under arrest, then ask you to help them right away. If you get an out-of-the-blue request for money or your financial information, check it out before you respond. Ask questions the real person could answer to make sure it's really them.
“One of the best pieces of advice I can give anyone is to trust your gut,” Cowart said. “It goes back to the old saying ‘If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.’ In the case of fraud, you can’t worry about being rude. If something just doesn’t feel right, you need to take a moment to wonder why someone is asking you for personal information or sending you things you didn’t order. In the end, it is always OK to hang up or walk away. Wait until you find out who is behind the outreach before replying.”
Fraud Awareness and Prevention Resources
If you think you’ve been a victim of fraud or were approached by a scammer, you can report it at Tips.FBI.Gov or IC3.Gov or 1-800-CALL-FBI (225-5324). Blue Cross members can also make reports to the insurer’s Fraud Hotline at 1-800-392-9249.
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana YouTube channel has a “Fraud Prevention Tips” video playlist, including “Mr. Jimmy’s Medicare Advantage Member Story.” (2:48) Blue Cross member Jimmy and his sister, Donna, talk about what happened when his identity was stolen and how Blue Cross helped him stay covered. Subscribe to know when new videos are added.
Connect with Blue Cross on social media @BCBSLA to see ongoing messages about fraud awareness and prevention. Blue Cross posts often on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and TikTok.
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is committed to our mission to improve the health and lives of Louisianians. Founded in New Orleans in 1934, we are a tax-paying nonprofit health insurer with offices in every major region to serve our customers. We have been recognized for the past five years as an honoree of The Civic 50, named by Points of Light as one of the 50 most community-minded companies in the United States.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. We are a private mutual company, owned by our policyholders, with an independent Louisiana Board of Directors and no shareholders. We invite all Louisianians to visit our website at www.bcbsla.com or talk to us on social media @BCBSLA.