Maui News

Office on Aging Warns Against Genetic Testing Fraud in Hawaiʻi

August 20, 2019, 10:55 AM HST
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Fraudulent genetic testing groups are scamming Medicare beneficiaries statewide and across the nation, the Hawaiʻi Executive Office on Aging announced on Monday.  

These representatives claim to offer “free” genetic tests, such as DNA, cancer, and hereditary screenings to convince Medicare customers to share their insurance numbers. 

According to the office, the scammers have been advertising on T.V. and on the internet, and even go to senior centers, health fairs, and parking lots to swindle people into taking a cheek swab for testing. 

“These companies can steal people’s medical identity and falsely bill Medicare, draining the system of needed funds. Tests ordered under these circumstances are unnecessary and could lead to confusion about someone’s health condition,” Senior Medicare Patrol Hawai‘i program manager Kaipo Cullen said in a press release. 

The Department of Health and Human Services also issued an alert to advise the public of these scams. 

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Federal regulations state that only a physician treating the beneficiary should order a diagnostic test. 

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“A doctor who has never met or examined a patient, often hired by a genetic testing company, should not be signing off on any tests. That’s a red flag,” Cullen said. 

Below is a list of tips from the SMP to avoid these schemes: 

  • Refuse to give out personal information or accept screening services, including a cheek swab, from someone at a community event, a local fair, a farmer’s market, a parking lot, and/or any other large event.
  • Go to your own doctor to assess your condition, not a doctor on the phone you never met from a company you do not know.
  • Always read your Medicare Summary Notice or Explanation of Benefits. The words “gene analysis” or “molecular pathology” as service codes may indicate questionable genetic testing.
  • Refuse the delivery of any genetic testing kit that was not ordered by your physician.
  • Be suspicious of anyone who offers free genetic testing and then requests your Medicare number. If your personal information is compromised, it may be used in other fraud schemes.
  • Contact your local SMP for help. SMPs assist Medicare beneficiaries, their families, and caregivers to prevent, detect, and report health care fraud, errors, and abuse.

For more information, contact SMP Hawaiʻi at 1-808-296-9422.  

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