It’s tax time, which of course brings out the scam artists. That means it’s time for a little primer from the Missouri SMP (Senior Medicare Patrol) to keep you from being a victim. Thousands of people have lost millions of dollars and personal information to scammers. First of all, if you are going to file a tax return, do so as soon as possible to keep an impostor from doing it using your information.Fraudsters use the telephone, email and snail mail to scam individuals.You need to remember that the IRS will not initiate contact with you by phone, email, text messages, Facebook or Twitter to request personal or financial information.
But, scammers claim to be IRS employees using fake names and badge ID numbers. They may change their caller ID’s so that it looks like the IRS is calling. These guys may know a lot about you. They probably found the information by Googling you. They tell you that you owe money that needs to be paid either by a gift card or wire transfer. DO NOT do it. They may threaten to have you arrested. They may tell you they are going to suspend your driver’s license. They can be hostile and insulting.
They may tell you that you have a refund coming, but ONLY if you provide your banking information for a direct transfer. They often tell you the matter is urgent. Some have even gone after deaf or hard of hearing people through video relay services.
DO NOT fall for it. The IRS does NOT demand immediate payment using a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. If you were to owe taxes, you would receive a bill in the mail.
The IRS will NOT threaten to have the police or sheriff’s office arrest you for nonpayment. The IRS will NOT demand payment without giving you a chance to question or appeal. And, they won’t ask for credit, debit or Social Security numbers over the phone. If you feel like you are a victim of a scam, report it to your police department.
As always, report suspected Medicare fraud to the Missouri (SMP) Senior Medicare Patrol at (888) 515-6565. SMPs are funded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Community Living, Administration on Aging.
*This project was supported, in part by grant number 90MP0204, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201.
Missouri Rx – Missouri’s State Pharmaceutical Assistance Program has been reauthorized by the state legislature for another 5 years until August, 28, 2022. Missouri Rx works with a person’s stand alone Part D plan or Medicare Advantage plan to pay 50% of a person’s costs at the pharmacy. Eligibility benefits for MO Rx benefit has been reduced to only those Medicare beneficiaries that are also enrolled into Medicaid. This change affects 64,000 enrollees. Our certified counselors can help you determine your options if you have lost this benefit. You have not lost your Medicare drug coverage.
Missouri Rx coverage will no longer pay 50% of the cost of Part D prescriptions for people enrolled in Medicare whose
CLAIM Counselors can provide the following.
www.rxassist.org – provides info and application links to assistance programs
www.needymeds.org – provides info and application links to assistance programs
www.rxoutreach.org – discount purchasing program website
We encourage you to call or contact us to understand any options available to you.
1 in 3 American adults is at risk for kidney disease. Medicare Part B covers preventive screening tests that help detect diabetes and high blood pressure – 2 conditions that may lead to kidney damage. Visit Medicare.gov/coverage/preventive-and-screening-services.html for more information.
Medicare Part B also covers up to 6 sessions of kidney disease education services if a person has Stage IV chronic kidney disease that will usually require dialysis or a kidney transplant. For more information, visit Medicare.gov/coverage/kidney-disease-edu.html.
A telephone scam in which crooks alter caller ID to make it seem as if the call is coming from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General’s Hotline 1-800-HHS-TIPS (1-800-447-8477) to get beneficiaries and members of the public to verify or share personal info which is used to victimize them via financial and other crimes – draining their bank accounts. The Office of the Inspector General wants the public to know that the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General will not use the Hotline telephone number to make outgoing calls and individuals should not answer calls from 1-800-HHS-TIPS (1-800-447-8477).
The Office of the Inspector General recently confirmed that the Hotline telephone number is being used as part of a telephone spoofing scam targeting individuals throughout the country. These scammers represent themselves as Department of Health & Human Services’ Hotline employees and can alter the appearance of the caller ID to make it seem as if the call is coming from the Department of Health & Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General Hotline. The perpetrator may use various tactics to obtain or verify the victim’s personal information, which can then be used to steal money from an individual’s bank account or for other fraudulent activity. The Office of the Inspector General takes this matter seriously. We are actively investigating this matter and intend to have the perpetrators prosecuted.
It is important to know that the Department of Health & Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General will not use the Hotline telephone number to make outgoing calls and individuals should not answer calls from 1-800-HHS-TIPS (1-800-447-8477). We encourage the public to remain vigilant, protect their personal information, and guard against providing personal information during calls that purport to be from the Hotline telephone number. We also remind the public that it is still safe to call into the Hotline to report fraud. We particularly encourage those who believe they may have been a victim of the telephone spoofing scam to report that information to us through the Hotline, 1-800-HHS-TIPS (1-800-447-8477) or email@example.com. Individuals may also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).
If you would to learn more, visit: https://oig.hhs.gov/fraud/consumer-alerts/alerts/phone-scam.asp
JOPLIN, Mo. – Now until December seventh is annual open enrollment. If you’re enrolled in Part D, Medicare’s drug coverage, you have the chance to either switch or stick with that insurance.
Karen Wells and her husband visited Mercy Hospital Joplin Friday to speak with CLAIM, the Missouri State Health Insurance Assistance Program about being enrolled in Part D, Medicare’s drug coverage.
“Confused, cause there’s so many plans and I work in the health care field, but still it’s all like Greek to me. So she helped to dispel a little bit of that and told me how they’ll use a computer and input a lot of our data and tell us which plans will probably be best for us,” Wells says.
Experts say from year to year, coverage changes, which means providers may not carry the same prescription drugs or the cost of coverage may increase. And it can get very confusing for the average person.
“We can’t imagine someone that doesn’t deal with this all the time to even understand it and the problem being if they don’t understand it and they don’t make necessary changes now, they’re in it for a year, so they can be out a lot of money simply from one little mistake,” Stacy Childs, Claim Missouri Regional Liaison Trainer for the Southwest District of Missouri.
To read the full story, click here.
Today, the Social Security Administration announces the launch of a new Health IT initiative with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that enables all Social Security disability case processing sites to receive medical records electronically from all VA facilities. Veterans will receive a faster decision on their Social Security disability claim, speeding them and their dependents through this new process. Both agencies will save time and money with an automatic request through the eHealth Exchange.
“President Obama has said, ‘we must maintain the sacred covenant we share with our veterans by ensuring they have the care and benefits they deserve,’ and I could not agree more,” said Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security. “We are committed to providing our veterans with the world class service they so richly deserve and improving the speed and efficiency of our disability program.”
The new Health IT program was tested successfully at Social Security locations around the country. On Veteran’s Day, November 11, the eHealth Exchange will go live, nationally, to all Social Security disability case processing sites.
Social Security requests nearly 15 million medical records annually from healthcare providers and organizations to make medical decisions on about three million disability claims. Medical documentation is essential to make a disability determination. Historically, the agency obtained medical records through a manual process (mail, fax, secure mail). This new national initiative puts in place an automated process to obtain medical records electronically without human intervention.
“VA is currently improving quality of life by enabling Veterans to share their health information with federal partners and integrating their data into a safe and secure health-related consumer application,” said Dr. David Shulkin, Under Secretary for Health of the Department of Veterans Affairs. “Currently, when eligible Veterans apply for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits the average wait time for Social Security to receive paper records from VA can take months; this partnership allows Social Security and VA to share the Veteran’s health information electronically in minutes. The Social Security and VA partnership allows VA to continue to be a leader in interoperability efforts among federal partners while improving overall quality of life for our Veteran patients.”
This partnership adds the VA to Social Security’s more than 50 other Health IT partners, including the Department of Defense, in approximately 7,000 facilities across the United States providing electronic health records. Social Security’s goal is to continue expanding the number of healthcare organizations and federal agencies providing electronic health records within a safe and secure environment.
To learn more about Health IT, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/disabilityssi/hit.
Social Security offers two other programs to expedite disability claims filed by veterans. Wounded Warriors and veterans with a VA disability compensation rating of 100% Permanent & Total have their Social Security disability claims treated as high priority and receive expedited decisions. For more information about these programs, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/people/veterans.
To get more Social Security news, follow the Press Office on Twitter @SSAPress.
Call your local SHIP program. The phone number is listed on your copy of the Medicare and You handbook. In Missouri, call 1-800-390-3330. We refer your call to a trained SHIP counselor in your area who will know the local program(s) you seek. We have 300 counselors statewide to help you.
There are four benchmark plans in 2017 that a beneficiary receiving extra help can enroll. The premium for the benchmark plan will be zero and there is no deductible. If a beneficiary, who receives full extra help, enrolls in a non-benchmark plan then the premium will be reduced and the beneficiary will be required to pay that monthly premium.
Also, another important reason to work with a SHIP Counselor, and to have the Counselor enter the current drugs that the Beneficiary takes, is to make certain that all drugs are on the ‘Benchmark’ Plan’s Formulary! Even though a Beneficiary is eligible and could enroll into a $0 Premium plan, if their drugs are not covered by the Benchmark Plan’s formulary, this could cause a much bigger issue. The cost of those drugs that are not covered, could end up causing the Beneficiary to pay a great deal of money out of pocket! As a result, a small premium might not be so bad.
If a beneficiary, 65 years or older, is enrolled in Medicare while he/she is still working and is also enrolled in their employer sponsored plan, the employer plan will be primary to Medicare, in many cases. In order for this statement to be true for the employee and/or 65 year old spouse, there has to be 20 or more employees, and the beneficiary must still be actively working.
If the employee (or spouse) is under the age of 65 and is enrolled in Medicare due to a disability, in order for the employer plan to be primary in this situation, there must be 100 or more employees. If the employer plan IS primary to Medicare, the beneficiary is able to delay Part B, or if already enrolled, could drop Part B, without incurring a penalty. While the employee is still working, he or she may sign up for Part B at any time. When the Beneficiary decides to end employment, they will then receive a Special Enrollment Period to enroll (or re-enroll) into Part B.
This Special Enrollment Period will last up to eight months after employment ends, or until the employer insurance ends, whichever comes first.
To obtain the most accurate and helpful information regarding Long Term Care Insurance, start with Missouri Department of Insurance. The department’s website is http://insurance.mo.gov/consumers/LongTerm. On this site you will find information such as Frequently Asked Questions, Long Term Care Costs, and a variety of additional links and resources.