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Scooters and Medicare fraud: how this problem could affect you

Published on April 5th, 2013

Imagine that you are unable to move efficiently around your house. Imagine too that your mobility disability is so severe that you cannot even leave the house without assistance. Now think about the dozens of scooter commercials you’ve seen on the television in the last few years. A device like that could change your life forever; and with ads saying that nine out of ten people receive theirs at little to no cost because of Medicare, why wouldn’t someone jump on that offer?

But some experts across the U.S. are saying that this is where the problem begins and are now pointing out that the specific marketing language used in these ads could be leading to Medicare fraud in the end.

When motorized scooters first hit the market, people with mobility disabilities were finally given the ability to go places without fear of inaccessibility. And with many common mobility impairments covered under Social Security Disability, these expensive scooters quickly became affordable for people who needed them the most.

But according to many doctors, this trend has exploded into something quite different.

In testimony given before the Senate recently, one doctor explained that there is increased pressure from sales representatives from scooter companies who have even been known to accompany patients when they come in for office visits. Many doctors feel intimidated and pressured into prescribing the use of a scooter to patients. In one doctor’s experience, when this happened, only one out of every ten patients actually needed the scooter they were asking for.

Because of pressure from sales representatives and the intricate language used in the ads, more and more people are requesting scooters. When a doctor does prescribe a scooter, Medicare pays for about 80 percent of the cost while the remainder is often times picked up by supplemental insurance. Some doctors feel that some requests for scooters are being approved despite the patient not actually needing one, pulling funds from Medicare that could go to a disabled person who really needs it.

Source: Claims Journal, “Scooter Ads Face Scrutiny From Government, Doctors,” Matthew Perrone, March 29, 2013

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