SCAN helps Ventura seniors identify fraud risks

by Karen Helen Szatkowski

The community service division of SCAN Health Plan held a seminar on April 21st at the Ventura Townhouse  to provide the residents with skills to defeat the many fraud tactics that target the senior community.

Karen Markle, as Volunteer Coordinator for SCAN introduced the speakers: Rachel DeMaree with eighteen years’ experience in health care fraud investigations and Sandhi Ton with four years’ experience. These two are an integral part of the Special Investigations Unit for SCAN and pursue, on a daily basis, cases of fraud targeting seniors and fraud perpetrators.

This meeting was organized with the Townhouse and attended by many of its residents who came with questions and worries about their activities on the phone and the internet. This particular audience has a hefty security that prevents most door knocking scams but it is not unusual for a variety of perpetrators to pursue information by posing as health care providers, medical equipment providers, laboratories or insurance officials through the phone and internet.

The two presenters went over these tools to avoid health care fraud:
Never sign blank insurance claim forms;
Make sure to understand your medical benefits and call the insurer if needed;
Never provide your Medicare or insurance ID to anyone except those that actually provide care for you;
Do not do business with salespeople who promote free medical equipment and be sure to know exactly what your doctor has ordered for you;
Get an up-front quote of charges from medical providers including how much comes out of your pocket.

There should never be requests by anyone for a blanket authorization of health care services and it is always good to keep accurate records of your medical appointments should questions arise in the future.

These approaches will thwart most if not all of the attempts to steal your information and your resources as regards your health care, however there are other goons out there that want your money.

Using the Internal Revenue Service is a favorite channel with fraudsters using scary phone calls to demand payment of past due taxes and requiring use of a specific payment method, such as a credit or debit card. Some of these will threaten to have you arrested for non- payment. The IRS does not place unsolicited phone calls to anyone. So, again, please hang up.

Confronting worrisome doubt by wooing a techie family member or friend for help can boost your experience of the world and broaden your interests. Thanks to SCAN and Karen, Rachel and Sandhi for preparing and presenting the workshop and answering the many questions.

For more information on bringing a presentation like this to your facility or for volunteer opportunities serving seniors, call Karen at 660-1047 or email

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