Federal health officials are reminding consumers that enrollment has not yet begun for the Medicare drug discount cards, following reports that some people are contacting beneficiaries offering "Medicare approved" cards.
Valeria Allen, an insurance specialist at the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, said that a Medicare beneficiary in Georgia first alerted the government to the fraud.
"Someone is fraudulently impersonating or misrepresenting Medicare by telephone and by door-to-door visits to beneficiaries' homes, to discuss the Medicare discount drug program and to obtain personal identifying information from beneficiaries," Ms. Allen said
In some cases, Ms. Allen said, the caller seems to have obtained personal information about beneficiaries before visiting their homes.
Ms. Allen added: "Beneficiaries should not be giving anyone their personal identifying information. Medicare has not begun its enrollment, marketing or outreach process yet for our beneficiaries regarding the prescription discount drug program."
The discount card will offer temporary assistance to the elderly and disabled until the recently approved Medicare drug benefit begins in January 2006. Beneficiaries can sign up for the cards in May and start using them in June.
For a New York Times article on the discount card fraud, go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/02/17/politics/17DRUG.html (Article may no longer be available free of charge.)
For more on the drug discount cards, see the Medicare Rights Center's excellent "76 Things You Should Know About the New Medicare Drug Discount Cards."