Marketers using personal Medicare under investigation

A new investigation examining how marketers are getting the personal Medicare information of seniors is underway, with government watchdogs wanting to know if a misuse of a government system is to blame, the Associated Press reported.

The probe will be formally announced in the coming week, but was confirmed by HHS to the AP and is part of a narrower probe into a system used that verifies Medicare coverage for pharmacies. That system was potentially being used inappropriately for marketing reasons, the AP reported. The audit looked into 30 pharmacies and service providers that often leveraged the Medicare system for drugstores.

While the electronic transactions of the system are meant to be used for prescriptions, tens of thousands of queries––an average of 98%––submitted by pharmacies weren’t able to be matched to prescriptions in the audit. Four pharmacies audited also allowed marketing companies “to use their provider numbers to ping Medicare,” the AP reported, putting patient information and privacy at risk. Investigators want to look into other potential for fraud.

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