LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- The Nevada Department of Health and Human Services said its director of Nevada Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) is warning residents about a genetics testing company scam.
According to a statement from the department, representatives of the company offers "free" genetics tests to Medicare beneficiaries. The tests have also been referred to as DNA screenings, cancer screenings or hereditary testing.
The fraudulent companies promise results that will help recipients avoid diseases or find the right medications by using a simple cheek swab test and the person's Medicare number, according to the department.
Due to confusion regarding Medicare's coverage for genetic tests for cancer and other conditions, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) released a fraud alert that advises the public to keep an eye out for anyone who offers free genetic tests and asks for their Medicare number.
Company representatives go door-to-door or visit senior centers, senior housing, veterans events, health fairs and other locations where people gather to convince people to let them take a cheek swab for testing, the department said.
"These companies can steal people’s medical identity and falsely bill Medicare, draining the system of needed funds," said Kim Harney-Moore, director of SMP. "Tests ordered under these circumstances are unnecessary and could lead to confusion about someone’s health condition."
The department said federal regulations state that diagnostic tests must be ordered by the physician who is treating the patient. The OIG warned consumers against signing off on any tests not requested by a known or trusted physician.
"A doctor who has never met or examined a patient, often hired by a genetic testing company, should not be authorizing any tests. That’s a red flag," said Harney-Moore.
SMP recommended Medicare beneficiaries should:
- Refuse to give any personal information to any person or business offering screening services, including cheek swabs or blood tests at community or local events
- Decline participating in screening or genetic tests with anyone who is not their doctor
- Go to their own physician to asses their condition or needed screenings
- Always read the Medicare Summary Notice or Explanation of Benefits
- Keywords such as "gene analysis" or "molecular pathology" may indicate questionable genetic testing
- Refuse delivery of any genetic testing kit that was not ordered by the physician
- Contact a local SMP for help
SMP is able to provide consumers with the information needed to protect against Medicare fraud, error and abuse, the department said.
For additional information, contact Nevada Senior Medicare Patrol at (888) 838-7305 or SMPinfo@adsd.nv.gov