Genetic/DNA testing schemes

Have you received a call from someone claiming to be from Medicare saying you are eligible for “free” DNA testing?

The ND Senior Medicare Patrol has been notified that Medicare beneficiaries in ND are being contacted by phone from a caller claiming to be with Medicare. The caller states Medicare wants all beneficiaries to be genetically tested for cancer research and that a DNA testing kit will be mailed to the beneficiary. Included in the kit is a signature card giving the company permission to run the test. All that the beneficiary must do is swab their cheek, sign the card, provide their Medicare number, and using the self-addressed envelope, return the kit for analysis. The beneficiary is told this testing is fully covered by Medicare.

Older adults in group settings are also being targeted. Locations such as senior centers, housing complexes, and other community locations are sought by companies promoting “free” genetic testing, cancer screening, or DNA testing. Screenings at these sites are frequently done under the guise of an ice cream social event. During the event, older adults are asked to perform the cheek swab to collect a DNA sample which will be sent to the lab for analysis. The beneficiaries are told the results will enable their doctors to fine-tune their medications and care. Beneficiaries are told that this test is “free” – all that is needed is their Medicare number.

Be Aware:

– Medicare only pays for DNA or genetic testing in rare circumstances where it is medically necessary for treatment or diagnosis of a medical condition.

– These tests must be ordered by the patient’s own physician.

– There must be documentation in medical records to substantiate the need for the testing.

– People have been stuck with big bills when their insurance plan decided the test was not medically necessary.

– If a test or product is truly “free,” you will not have to provide your Medicare number.

What You Should Do:

– If you are contacted by phone, hang up! Do not answer any questions or give out any personal information or your Medicare number.

– Remember that Medicare will not call you to confirm your personal information, your Medicare number, or ask questions about your health.

– Report genetic testing or suspicious requests for your Medicare number to ND Senior Medicare Patrol at 1-800-233-1737, locally at 701-858-3580 or email at ndsmp@minotstateu.edu.