Commissioner of Insurance warns of genetic testing scheme targeting Medicare beneficiaries

Commissioner of Insurance warns of genetic testing scheme targeting Medicare beneficiaries
(Source: MGN)

LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - A genetic testing fraud scheme is targeting Medicare beneficiaries, according to James Donelon, Louisiana’s Commissioner of Insurance.

Beneficiaries are being targeted through phone calls, booths at health fairs, tables at grocery stores and pharmacies, and door-to-door visits to participate in free genetic testing and cancer screenings. Donelon said the screenings are a fraudulent means for scammers to obtain Medicare information for identity theft or fake billing purposes.

The Better Business Bureau is reporting several states, including Kentucky, Nebraska and South Carolina, have issued warnings about the screenings, which involve collecting DNA cells swabbed from inside a person’s cheek.

Donelon said beneficiaries can avoid becoming a victim of Medicare fraud by doing the following:

  • Do not give out your Medicare number or Social Security number. Be cautious of unsolicited requests for your Medicare or Social Security numbers. If your personal information is compromised, it may be used in other fraud schemes.
  • Do not consent to any lab tests at senior centers, health fairs or in your home. Be suspicious of anyone claiming that genetic testing/cancer screenings are at no cost to you.
  • Genetic tests and cancer screenings must be medically necessary and ordered by your doctor to be covered by Medicare. Random genetic testing and cancer screenings are not covered by Medicare. If you are interested in the test, speak with your doctor first.
  • Monitor your Medicare Summary Notice (MSN) to see if there are any services you did not have or did not want but were billed for. Medicare Summary Notices are sent every three months if you get any services or medical supplies during that 3-month period.

A non-profit organization from St. Louis alerted BBB after a representative from a testing company offered to give a presentation to a group of senior citizens, according to information from Sharane Gott, CEO of the Acadiana BBB. The non-profit told BBB a man wanted to collect DNA samples after delivering a short presentation. The non-profit told the man that he could give a presentation but not take samples. The man did not show up to the scheduled presentation.

BBB spoke to the man who offered to give the presentation. He said the business collects DNA swabs from its clients and does genetic screening on the samples at no cost to the consumer. He said the company collects the consumer’s Medicare or Medicaid information and files insurance claims on the client’s behalf. The man said he did not have a medical degree.

A BBB investigator was able to watch a training webinar presented by the man’s company. The presenter told viewers they could not entice anyone to take the test by giving them either money or a gift to participate. He said the company could not use the word “free” when promoting the screenings but rather refer to it as a “no cost” screening since insurance will be billed for the tests. Webinar attendees were told to “dress to impress” and to always “wear a badge.”

BBB was able to obtain a copy of the requisition forms the business submits with the DNA samples. While consumers are not required to share their Social Security number, the business does ask the consumer for their insurance information, and consumers are required to let the business take photos of their photo ID as well as their insurance cards.

Go to BBB’s ScamTracker to learn about scams trending in your area or to report a scam.

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