Preserving Medicare: We have a role to play

June 9, 2011

Would you accept a job paying $1 million to count out $2 billion in $1 bills?

Think again, because working a 40-hour week and counting out $1 per second, you would require 266 years to count out the $2 billion total.

Now that you have an idea how much $2 billion is, consider that in the 12 months ending Sept. 30, 2010, the federal government, through the Department of Justice, recovered $2.6 billion in Medicare health care fraud judgments and settlements from 726 separate defendants.

This $2.6 billion total has exploded from $490 million in 1999, meaning that Medicare health care fraud is on the rise, according to PalmettoGBA, which administers Railroad Medicare.

As we struggle to preserve Medicare – and keep a lid on what we, as current and future retirees must pay for its coverage — it is necessary to do all we can to keep a lid on Medicare inflation.

We can help keep those costs down and help preserve Medicare by recognizing, reacting to and reporting Medicare health care fraud.

Here is what you can do:

  • Examine carefully your Medicare Summary Notices (MSNs).
  • Be alert for charges for services you didn’t receive, double billings for the same service, and procedures or services not ordered by your physician.
  • Keep your Medicare card in a safe place. If it becomes lost or stolen, notify your Medicare provider immediately.

If you see a charge or a date of service that is incorrect, first call your provider and ask about it. If the billing is not corrected, or if you suspect a pattern of improper billing, call the Department of Health and Human Services Medicare fraud hotline at (800) 447-8477, which will initiate an investigation and keep your identity confidential.

For more information on Medicare fraud, visit

If we don’t take the initiative to help keep Medicare costs down, we place the future of Medicare – and our own health care futures – in jeopardy.