Medicare Discount Drug Program Attract Con Artists

5/13/2004

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With the high cost of medicine, a new government program was designed to help cut prescription costs for seniors and people with disabilities who have no other drug coverage. The Medicare discount drug program began in June 2004, allowing seniors to pick and chose from a number of discount drug cards approved by Medicare.

As of January 1, 2006, seniors who have Medicare and do not have outpatient prescription drug coverage through Medicaid, can obtain a Medicare-approved drug discount card.

The Better Business Bureau urges older consumers to be wary of schemes masquerading as solicitations for the Medicare discount drug program. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), illegal door-to-door or telephone solicitation scams selling “Medicare-approved” discount drug cards, have been reported across the country. Consumers are advised to be suspicious of any solicitation that asks for their banking, Social Security, Medicare or credit card information.

It is illegal to sell any Medicare product over the phone or door-to-door. Medicare has contracted with private companies and some state pharmacy assistance programs to offer drug discount cards until the Medicare prescription drug benefit begins. Some private companies have already started marketing the cards, which will offer discounts of up to 20 percent on prescription medications. Private companies may charge up to $30 for the cards. Drug discount cards that have been approved by Medicare will carry a “Medicare-Approved” seal. You will be able to confirm that the cards are legitimate by checking the government’s Web site at http://www.medicare.gov or by calling 1-800-MEDICARE. The CMS fact sheet about Medicare-approved drug discount card scams offers additional information. To read, go to http://www.cms.hhs.gov/apps/media/press/release.asp?counter=1018.

When considering a drug discount card, it is best to shop around. Do not jump at the first offer. Look for the card that will bring the best discount and can be used at local pharmacies. Finally, keep in mind that Medicare and the companies authorized to provide the drug discount card will never contact you by phone nor visit your home. They will send information about their cards through the mail.

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