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Avoiding vaccine-related Medicare scams

Posted at 5:13 PM, May 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-19 20:20:06-04

TULSA, Okla. — When he went to get his COVID-19 shot at a clinic in Broken Arrow, Jim Durling showed his ID and insurance card and thought all was good. But it wasn't.

"Apparently, when we got our COVID shot, they should have asked us for our Medicare card but didn't," Durling said.

Durling said he didn't find out until days later when he received this email asking for his Medicare number, which he thought raised a red flag.

"It looked legitimate," he said. "The website and phone numbers matched, but you're told over and over don't send anyone a copy of your Medicare card, and there's all kinds of scams. So, I was a little hesitant."

That's when he contacted the Problem Solvers, and 2 News got in touch with the clinic, which sent the email to Passport Health Oklahoma. Durling did get his vaccine at one of its clinics.

"It's kind of confusing for the patients and nurses trying to administer the vaccine," Durling said.

While the vaccine itself is paid for by the feds, the clinic's finance manager said those who administer it are allowed to bill insurance companies and Medicare for employee costs and overhead.

But for Medicare patients, only regular Medicare can be billed, not any supplemental plan. It was the supplemental information that Durling gave to the clinic which didn't catch it.

"We provided the service. We didn't get the necessary information ahead of time," said Mike Haymore with Passport Health Oklahoma. "That was our mistake. So, we're just trying to follow up and get the information we need."

As for Durling, he's now reassured himself about giving his Medicare information to the clinic.

"But I wanted to make sure I had all the information I needed before I called them back," he said.

Too bad there's not a vaccine to protect yourself from scammers.

So far, there's no telling how many Medicare patients were asked for or mistakenly gave the wrong insurance information while getting their vaccine at the many places it was available.

So, if you or your parents or grandparents are contacted like Durling, do what he did. Verify it was the clinic where you got your vaccine before turning over any personal information.

For information on how to report a fraud, click here.

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