As life expectancies increase and our seniors age, the senior population in the United States is skyrocketing at a rapid pace. While this has been an amazing gift of modern medicine, it can also lead to exploitation. As discussed at Health 2.0 Conference, senior care fraud is a serious issue that costs an estimated $30 billion dollars each year, and affects thousands of vulnerable people in the US.
What Is Senior Care Fraud?
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services defines elder fraud as “fraud, abuse or neglect of the elderly by their caregivers, including the illegal and unauthorized use of funds or property from an elderly person’s assets.” Some of the most common elder care fraud schemes include charging for services not provided, providing unlicensed care, and taking kickbacks from health care providers for services not needed.
Senior care fraud occurs when an individual or organization exploits or deceives a senior for financial or personal gain. According to Health 2.0 Conference’s experts, this type of fraud can a myriad of forms, such as identity theft, home repairs or care services scams, predatory loans, or abusive caregivers. Unfortunately, these types of fraud are on the rise and it’s often hard to spot, as most victims are not able to identify the warning signs.
Why Are Seniors at Risk of Fraud?
Seniors are especially vulnerable to fraud as they may have difficulty recognizing the signs of deception, have poor judgment, have a lack of mobility or have difficulty remembering details. Older people also have less money and are less likely to report fraud due to feelings of embarrassment or shame. Sadly, seniors are often seen as easy targets, so criminals often prey on their trust.
The Dangers of Senior Care Fraud: 5 Types to Look Out For
Senior care is a vital service for many seniors, yet the cost can be high. As with any service, there is a risk of being scammed and falling victim to senior care fraud. From charging for unprovided services to kickbacks and fraudulent investments, senior care fraud is a serious issue. It’s critical to know the various types of senior care fraud and how to spot them in order to protect yourself or your loved one, as pointed out at the Health 2.0 Conference.
1. Unnecessary Care: One of the most common types of senior care fraud is unnecessary care. In this scenario, a service provider might suggest treatments or medications that are not necessary, or they might recommend services and charge for them even though they weren’t actually performed. This type of fraud can be critically difficult to spot since many elderly people don’t have family members or caregivers nearby who can observe the care being given. Be sure to closely review your senior’s bills and check for unnecessary charges.
2. Overbilling: Another type of fraud is overbilling, where service providers might add on extra fees for items and services that are not necessary. Overbilling is more common for services like physical or occupational therapy and is often a way for service providers to boost their profits.
3. Kickbacks: Kickbacks are a type of bribery where senior care providers receive money or gifts in exchange for referrals to other service providers. While kickbacks are not necessarily illegal, they can still be considered fraudulent since the referral is not based on the needs of the senior. It’s important to be wary of providers who appear to be recommending services more for their own benefit than for the benefit of the senior.
4. False or Misleading Advertising: Senior care fraud can also include false or misleading advertising, such as exaggerating the benefits of a particular service or using deceptive language. Make sure to read any ads or promotional materials carefully to ensure that the promises are reasonable.
5. Fraudulent Investments: Finally, fraudulent investments are a type of senior care fraud in which a service provider might try to pressure the senior into investing their money into a questionable venture or fund. This can include things like high-risk stocks or limited partnerships. Recommend your loved ones to do their research before investing in any financial products and to be wary of any investments that sound too good to be true.
Ways To Spot Senior Care Fraud, According To Health 2.0 Conference
To protect the elderly from senior care fraud, know what to look out for. Here are a few tips from the Health 2.0 Conference’s previous edition on how to spot and report fraud:
• Look out for any changes in their behavior – If your senior loved one is acting differently, or has begun to make sudden decisions, it could be a sign of elder fraud.
• Review their financial statements – Look through bank and credit card statements to spot any unusual or fraudulent activity.
• Keep an eye out for questionable behavior from caregivers – Caregivers should always respect the wishes of their clients and be attentive to their needs.
• Review online reviews of senior care facilities – Online reviews can give you an indication of the level of care provided by senior care facilities.
• Check for warning signs of predatory loans – Always read the fine print and be aware of any offers that are too good to be true.
• Report any suspicious behavior to the authorities – Contact your local law enforcement or adult protective services to report any suspicious activities or cases of fraud.
As discussed at the Health 2.0 Conference, senior care fraud is a serious issue, and we all have a responsibility to safeguard our senior loved ones. While it may be hard to identify, look out for the warning signs. If you suspect that a senior loved one is a victim of fraud, be sure to contact the authorities right away.