Free genetic test scam

Across the nation genetic testing company representatives are offering “free” genetic tests to Medicare beneficiaries. These tests are also referred to as DNA screenings, cancer screenings, and hereditary testing, to name just a few. Representatives are calling beneficiaries in North Dakota convincing them to take a cheek swab test. The “genetic testing” kits are then mailed to beneficiaries along with instructions on swab administration, and directions for returning the kits. The representatives promise the results will help recipients avoid diseases or find the right medications. All they ask for in return is the person’s Medicare number.

While this may sound harmless it is dangerous. These companies can steal people’s medical identities and falsely bill Medicare, draining the system of needed funds. Tests ordered under these circumstances are unnecessary and could lead to confusion about someone’s health condition.

Because confusion exists regarding Medicare’s coverage for genetic tests for cancer and other conditions, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) advises the public to be suspicious of anyone who offers free genetic testing and then requests their Medicare number. The OIG also states a physician that a person knows, and trusts should approve any requests for genetic testing. In fact, federal regulations state that diagnostic tests must be ordered by the physician who is treating the beneficiary – in other words, the person’s own doctor. A doctor who has never met or examined a patient, often hired by a genetic testing company, should not be signing off on any tests. That’s a red flag.

The SMP recommends that beneficiaries should:

— Refuse to give out personal information or accept screening services, including genetic testing kits from people contacting you online or by phone.

— Go to your own doctor to assess your condition, not a doctor on the phone you’ve never met from a company you don’t know.

— Always read your Medicare Summary Notice (MSN) or Explanation of Benefits (EOB). The words “gene analysis” or “molecular pathology” as service codes may indicate questionable genetic testing.

— Refuse the delivery of any genetic testing kit that was not ordered by your physician.

— Be suspicious of anyone who offers free genetic testing and then requests your Medicare number. If your personal information is compromised, it may be used in other fraud schemes.

ND Senior Medicare Patrol helps seniors protect, detect and report Medicare fraud. If you suspect you, or someone you know, has been a victim of a Medicare scam, contact the ND SMP at ndsmp@minotstateu.edu or call 1-833-818-0029.

The information provided is intended to be a general summary only. Source of information: SMP Resource Center.


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