NEW YORK (WABC) -- June is Medicare Fraud Prevention Month, and it can't come too soon.
Medicare scams are exploding and costing New York State taxpayers $5 billion each year.
The deception is easy to detect, but you must know where to look.
Jean Stone is a blogger and an influencer whose Instagram, @idiosyncraticfashionistas, who has been featured on Eyewitness News for her sartorial sense.
Now, she is unfortunately adding new title to her many monikers: Medicare fraud victim.
"They list a cardiologist that I've never met, never seen," Stone said.
Stone was attending a Project Runway party before Christmas and needed a negative COVID test, so she went to her neighborhood pop up in SoHo for a test.
"Just nasal swab," she said.
But when she got her EOB, Explanation of Benefits from Medicare, it listed she was seen by a doctor, a heart doctor no less, billed $200 for new patient outpatient visit and $300 for the test, a $500 charge to Medicare.
"Health care fraud is the largest amount of money and complaints that the Offices for Inspector General are receiving," said Maria Alvarez, Executive Director of the New York StateWide Senior Action Council.
Its senior Medicare patrol program works to prevent, detect, and report Medicare fraud and waste which she says is costing taxpayers in the Empire State $5 billion a year.
"Health care providers, who are either over billing the client and Medicare, who are just adding on services that never occurred, and they're adding on professionals and giving kickbacks to professionals," Alvarez said.
To prevent fraud: First, guard your card, protect your Medicare and Social Security number like a checkbook or credit card.
Then, don't be shy about asking your provider to explain exactly what you'll be billed for.
Lastly, one of the most important things you can do is read you explanation of benefits. When that letter comes in the mail, see if there's a service on it that you did not receive. If so, report it right away.
Reporting Medicare Fraud:
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