People should be wary of individuals making appearances at public events or knocking on doors who are offering onsite “free swabs” of saliva for testing for cancer and other illnesses.

Without a prescription from a medical provider for such a test, Medicare will not pick up the tab for the swabbing and testing.

We are hearing that many older people are submitting to these swab requests from strangers and are not aware of the consequences. Individuals are best off not submitting to these requests and should not provide personal information, including Medicare and Social Security numbers.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends the following:

• Do not give out your Medicare number or Social Security number. Be cautious of unsolicited requests for your Medicare or Social Security numbers;

• Do not consent to any lab tests at senior centers, health fairs or in your home. Be suspicious of anyone claiming that genetic tests and cancer screenings are at no cost to you;

Genetic tests and cancer screenings must be medically necessary and ordered by your doctor to be covered by Medicare. Random genetic testing and cancer screenings aren’t covered by Medicare. If you are interested in the test, speak with your doctor.

Monitor your Medicare Summary Notice to see if there are any services you didn’t have or didn’t want, but were billed for. Call 1-800-MEDICARE or 1-800-HHS-TIPS if you think you’re a victim of fraud.

Betsy Sawyer-Manter, President and CEO of SeniorsPlus


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