Worried that Medicare may not be here when you get older? The federal government is taking steps to make sure that Medicare lasts and you pay less for premiums and your care.
The government is working on reducing Medicare fraud, waste and mistakes. With these changes and other steps to raise the quality of care, the Medicare trust fund should last to at least 2024. In 2009, efforts to fight fraud returned more than $2.5 billion to the Medicare Trust Fund. In 2011, the government recovered $4.1 billion when fighting health care fraud.
Over the next 10 years, the health care reform law is investing $350 million for preventing, finding and fighting fraud in Medicare and other programs.
How will the government cut back on fraud, waste and abuse?
- Coordinating care: Doctors will work with each other to help make sure your chances of having to go to the hospital for the same reason more than once are lower.
- Drug discounts: In 2013, Medicare Part D enrollees get half off the cost for a prescribed brand-name drug and a 20% discount on generic drugs. Between now and 2020, you'll pay less and less each year until you pay just 25% of the cost for brand name and generic drugs. To learn more about drug discounts, see Prescription drug discounts for seniors.
- Incentives for quality care: If a hospital has a history of giving quality care to patients, it gets higher payments from Medicare.
How can I protect myself from Medicare fraud?
Identity theft and scams are more common than ever and can turn your life upside down. Take some simple steps so you don't become a victim.
Identity theft: Someone uses your personal information such as your name, Social Security number or credit card account to commit fraud. They may get a credit card using your name and rack up hundreds - or thousands - of dollars in charges. This can lower your credit rating.
To avoid identity theft:
- Be careful when giving out your information on the Internet .Make sure the site is real by checking the site's address in your browser.
- If someone calls you or comes to your home uninvited, don't give them personal info.
- Only give your information to your doctor or other Medicare providers.
- Do not respond to emails asking for personal information.
- If in doubt, call the business requesting your information and ask why they need it.
Scams: Be careful of people, even those who say they are doctors and health care professionals, if they:
- Want your Medicare number in exchange for "free" equipment or services.
- Tell you that if you take more tests you'll pay less each time.
- Pressure or try to scare you into buying a costly health service or test.
By being careful, you can avoid being a victim and save Medicare money so the program lasts longer and is available to more seniors.