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Protect yourself from medical identity theft

Medical identity theft is the fastest growing type of identity theft in America. Protecting your Medicare and insurance cards and making sure you don’t give out personal information over the phone is important. However, just as important is reading the medical statements that you receive. According to a Nationwide Insurance survey, only 50 percent of Americans review their medical statements.

The Senior Medicare Patrol has tools for you to use that will help you get and stay organized. We can also help you understand what you are reading. Your Medicare summary notices (MSN, from Noridian quarterly), explanation of benefits (EOB, from your insurance providers monthly), and your doctor and pharmacy statements and receipts can do more than protect Medicare and insurance companies from waste, fraud and abuse. They can also help signal that someone has stolen your medical identity if they show items you did not receive.

Important steps to take:

Keep records of your healthcare visits, services, equipment provided, and significant lab results. The SMP personal healthcare journal is a good place to take notes.

Keep and file copies of any bills or notices from insurance companies, doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, etc. as well as cancelled checks.  

Compare your MSNs and EOBs to your personal healthcare journal to make sure they are correct. SMP can provide large envelopes to help you save paperwork items and do the comparisons.

Look for three things: 1) Charges for something you didn’t get. 2) Billing for the same thing twice. 3) Services that were not ordered by your doctor.

Ask questions when you don’t understand the charges billed, when you don’t think you received the service, or when you feel the service was unnecessary. Ask the provider. Ask Medicare. Ask the insurance company.

Area Six Agency on Aging is a Montana Senior Medicare Patrol partner. Call (406) 883-7284 or 1-800-551-3191 for materials and assistance, to report a problem or to become an SMP volunteer.

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