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Scam artists use Medicare rebate to target senior citizens

Hawaii residents are being warned about scam artists who are using the federal government’s Medicare drug plan rebate to get personal information from senior citizens.

Individuals enrolled in Medicare Part D who have reached the  so-called coverage gap will receive the $250 rebate. The federal government was to start mailing out rebate checks this month.

Officials with the state Executive Office on Aging’s Senior Medicare Patrol say beware of the following scams:

>> Individuals who call, e-mail or come to your door and offer to help you get your rebate check for a fee. This is a scam since those who qualify get their checks automatically, within 45 days after the coverage gap is reached. No forms need to be filled out and no fee is involved.

>> Individuals who say they are from the government and ask for your Medicare or Social Security numbers to ensure you receive your check. This is a scam to steal Medicare and Social Security benefits, officials said. The government already has this information.

>> Individuals who ask for your bank account number to direct deposit the rebate check. Officials said this scam is a way for thieves to clean out your bank account. There is no direct deposit for the rebate check. For those who qualify, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will issue a check made out to you.

>> People who use the $250 rebate to lure senior citizens into buying an insurance plan. Officials advise that anyone purporting to sell a new government health care plan called “Obamacare” is a scam artist. The plan does not exist.

About 16,500 Hawaii residents enrolled in the drug plan fell into a coverage gap last year.

In Medicare Part D, a drug plan member falls into a coverage gap after the plan’s payments and the member’s share of the drug costs add up to $2,380. Those enrolled in Extra Help, a low-income subsidy, will not receive the rebate.

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For more information on the rebate check and scams, go to  www.smpresource.org and www.healthreform.gov/fraud.html.

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