Beware: the Ides of Diabetes?

Sometimes bad things happen to great people. Lucky for us, fellow D-blogger and journalist Mike Hoskins is about the situation.

Special to the ‘Mine by Michael Hoskins

As when we PWDs (individuals with diabetes) did not have enough to keep our minds busy with daily blood sugar tests, health insurance policy headaches and finding the time to browse all the D-blogs and #dsma tweets, apparently now also have think about something different in our homes on a daily basis: fraud.

The Office of the Inspector General within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services states that PWDs are the new target of aggressive scams.

A March 13 news release  in the national agency states, “Though the exact method may vary, the strategy generally involves someone pretending to be in the Government, a diabetes association, as well as Medicare, calling you. The caller offers ‘free’ diabetic supplies, such as glucose meters, diabetic test strips, or lancets. The caller may also offer supplies like braces, lift chairs, foot orthotics, or heating pads, in exchange forthe beneficiaries’ Medicare or information, or verification of this type of information that is personal. Moreover, you might get items in the mail that you didn’t order.”

In large bold italicized letters, the release points out that The telephone is a scam.

The OIG recommends four options for those receiving these forecasts:

  • Protect your Medicare along with other personal information, and be leery of anyone who offers you “free” items or services and asks for this kind of information;
  • assess your Medicare summary notice and bills for questionable charges; and
  • don’t accept things that you didn’t order, keeping a record of the information to help the authorities catch any future illegal billing.

This really is a concern throughout the board for everyone with diabetes, although Medicare is especially mentioned by this fraud alert. I am sure it goes past PWDs and hits at patients who have any variety of other conditions.

This brings to mind a few recent news stories concerning the rising amount of medical identify theft in the U.S.. A report last fall  explained it as the fast-growing trend in ID thievery, impacting 1.42 million Americans in 2010 and breaking an aggregate of more than $28 billion. The poll of 600 executives at U.S. hospitals, physician groups, health insurers, Pharma and life sciences companies discovered that 54 percent have dealt with a minumum of one issue related to information privacy and security in the last two years. Even more scary given the speed of medical ID thefts and scams is that 55% of those entities haven’t taken the measures necessary to deal with privacy and security concerns relating to cellular devices, ” the report stated.

From considering this my blood sugar increases. (Seriously, #bgnow 253)

The thing is, people scheming and are lying and trying to convince that these offers are legit by hanging metaphoric carrots in front of our faces — like our favorite OMG-I-need-that treats, carrots flavored. They’re claiming to “help us” using free diabetes medicines and supplies that are so important to us, and in several cases are difficult to afford. These scammers are trying to steal our money and IDs to acquire supplies for themselves, or even to flip them.

We shouldn’t have to fight these types of conflicts, but apparently that is the world we live in these times when so much information is out there online (ahem). Imagine what this difficulty will appear to be down the road, as health information is currently floating around in cyberspace and goes on the internet. Yikes!

I’ve a paper shredder in my home office and I will begin using it more liberally. While I get an offer about something “free,” my next move will probably be either a quick click of my telephone or a push of the email delete button.

I am guessing that embracing the age-old adage of “nothing in life is free” wouldn’t hurt either. At least it will reduce my odds of being tricked… until I upload my pump and sugar meter and then send the information to my endo via email.

Disclaimer: Content created by the Diabetes Mine team. For additional information click here.

Disclaimer

This content is made a customer health blog, for Diabetes Mine. The content doesn’t adhere to the editorial guidelines of Healthline and isn’t medically reviewed. For more information about Healthline’s partnership with Diabetes Mine, please click here.

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