The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General is alerting the public about a fraud scheme involving orthotic braces and other medical equipment.
Scammers are offering Medicare beneficiaries orthotic braces that are supposedly free to them and covered by Medicare. Fraudsters (1) may call beneficiaries directly to offer braces or (2) use television or radio advertisements to encourage beneficiaries to order free braces by calling the phone number provided.
If a beneficiary provides or verifies personal or Medicare information, a brace is sent even if it is not requested by the beneficiary or medically necessary. Often, a beneficiary receives multiple braces. Medicare is then billed for each brace using the beneficiary's information.
If a beneficiary has received unwanted or unneeded braces, and that equipment is billed to Medicare, then Medicare may deny a brace that the beneficiary needs in the future.
- If you receive a call from someone offering you a free brace that will be billed to Medicare, hang up immediately.
- If medical equipment is delivered to you, don't accept it unless it was ordered by your physician. Refuse the delivery or return it to the sender. Keep a record of the sender's name and the date you returned the items.
- Be suspicious of anyone who offers you free medical equipment and then requests your Medicare number. If your personal information is compromised, it may be used in other fraud schemes.
- A physician that you know and trust should approve any requests for equipment to address your medical needs.
- Medicare beneficiaries should be cautious of unsolicited requests for their Medicare numbers. If anyone other than your physician's office requests your Medicare information, do not provide it.
- If you suspect Medicare fraud, contact the HHS OIG Hotline.