Iowa SMP (Senior Medicare Patrol) was contacted recently by the family of a northeast Iowa woman, when they discovered stockpiles of unused home medical supplies in her house. The family wondered if the medical supply company might be intentionally sending unneeded supplies and billing Medicare and supplemental insurance for the products. SMP can become involved because there was a question whether the supplier might be committing “fraud.”
The woman needed diabetes testing and breathing treatment supplies. She had the necessary prescriptions from her doctor. She saw a TV advertisement for a nationwide medical supply company, which promised the convenience of medical supplies delivered to your door, on just the right schedule. She contacted the company, gave them her prescription and her Medicare and supplemental insurance claim numbers.
She received the right supplies at the right times, but her health began to fail and she stopped using the supplies. The packing slips that came with the supplies had a reply card for the customer to tell them to stop shipment or change how often the shipments were made, but she didn’t notice that and wasn’t able to ask her family or physician for help. Medicare and her supplemental insurance paid for almost 2 years of supplies that weren’t used and were too old to return. No refunds could be made to Medicare and the supplemental insurance.
The medical supply company didn’t commit fraud, and it wasn’t the patient’s “fault” but thousands of Medicare and supplemental insurance dollars were wasted on unused supplies. However, this problem can be avoided. You can help protect your future Medicare benefits and the benefits of future retirees.
Iowa SMP recommends you as the patient or caregiver weigh your options for how you purchase medical supplies used in the home. There is nothing wrong with using a nationwide medical supply company that advertises on television or sends mail to your home. Here are a few tips for helping you decide whether to use your local drug or medical supply store or one of the businesses you see on TV.