An 84-year-old Ohio woman named Nancy DeLozier was stuck with several medical equipment devices that she dubbed “junk.” She stated that she got the devices in the mail but didn’t want or even need them. Nancy is a victim of a medical device scam that has become increasingly common in the past few years.
In February 2017, she received a shipment of back and knee braces that she never needed. Then, in May 2018, she received another shipment of wrist and ankle braces and a device meant to provide support to the hand, wrist, elbow and shoulder. All of these devices were ordered by out-of-state doctors with whom Nancy had never even met.
Why Did This Medical Device Scam Happen?
This is a scam in which scammers trick senior citizens with free medical devices. Once the individual is persuaded into the scam, the scammer bills Medicare.
In Ms. DeLozier’s case, Medicare ended up paying over $3,800 for all the devices. The items’ shipping boxes would never have even been opened if Cathy Bell, her daughter, had discovered them sooner.
A Widespread Problem
An advocate for Ohio residents who rely on Medicare, Anne Fredrickson, stated that telemarketers frequently call senior citizens and inquire about their pain. If the individual replies that they do experience pain, the telemarketers send them medical devices that are billed to Medicare.
Frederickson said that this is one of the biggest scams occurring throughout the country and that she and her colleagues get calls about the problem on a weekly basis. In addition, this practice has become so common that her organization released a video about it to warn people.
Cathy Bell, meanwhile, has spent many hours on the phone to track down exactly how the devices came to be delivered to her mother. As a result of her efforts, she has had $1,200 returned to Medicare. She stated that she complained to numerous government agencies and contacted the suppliers of the devices. She even tracked down one of the doctors who prescribed the devices.
Dr. Christopher Southwick works at Kansas Pain and Wellness in Topeka, Kansas and claimed that he prescribes medical devices to people based on information he receives from telemarketers who speak with them. According to the doctor, it is a legitimate business that doesn’t aim to harm anyone. He said he believes that some people might end up having buyer’s remorse or simply forget that they requested the devices.
However, Bell disputes that claim. She said she listened to some of the recordings of her mother speaking with telemarketers and that it sounded like she was pressured in one call. In another, Bell said it sounded like her mother was confused.
Medicare made a statement that it takes allegations of fraud seriously. As a result of this type of medical device scam, it has instituted stricter guidelines to limit suppliers and providers from marketing the devices directly to people who rely on Medicare.
Scams Taken Seriously
A spokeswoman for Ohio’s attorney general, Mike DeWine, stated that Medicare complaints are subsequently referred to federal investigators. She stated that the medical device scam is just one of many that are used in order to obtain a patient’s information so that Medicare is wrongfully charged.
Bell stated that her mother was harassed and the telemarketers took advantage of her. DeLozier, however, said she felt like an idiot when she received the shipments.
Bell said the practice is wrong on a moral level and that the medical device scam is causing innocent people and Medicare nothing but trouble.
Learn more about Medical Device News.