Friday, September 18, 2015
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In This Issue
Fraud in the News
The following are current news articles about health care and fraud issues.

Consumer Fraud:

Consumer Fraud:

2. "Life Happens..." (FTC)

Please share this Fraud Alert with colleagues, consumers, or other professionals in your area. If you have any questions about the Illinois SMP program, or to receive these Fraud Alerts directly, please contact Jason Echols, Healthcare Consumer Protection Coordinator at AgeOptions.


This document was supported in part by a grant (No. 90MP0216) from the Administration on Aging (AoA), Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Grantees carrying out projects under government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Therefore, points of view or opinions do not necessarily represent official AoA, ACL, or DHHS policy. 


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Dear SMP Readers, 


This week's Fraud Alert features tips for lowering prescription drug cost, a seven year prison sentence for health care fraud, and tips for stopping unwanted calls.


Have a great weekend!

Paying the High Cost of Drugs

A woman in southern Illinois had a very costly prescription drug that she had trouble paying. At her doctor's office, she found a brochure advertising a company that could help people find assistance for prescriptions. After providing the company with her information and paying both the initial enrollment fee and monthly fees for several months, the woman still had no help on her prescription costs.

The woman then went to her local area agency on aging where she met with a Senior Health Insurance Program (SHIP) counselor who quickly found a prescription assistance program to help pay for her expensive drug. The woman cancelled her membership with the company but not before she spent several hundred dollars for a service that gave her nothing.

If you are looking to save money on your prescription drugs, there may be help out there. Instead of paying a company to look for you, try these free tips:
  • Contact your local area agency on aging for help (search by zip code on Your local agency can screen you for  benefits and refer you to a SHIP counselor for help comparing plans in open enrollment and understanding prescription assistance programs.
  • Always review your drug coverage options during Medicare's annual open enrollment period (October 15 - December 7) on During this time, you can compare your current insurance coverage to other plans. It is important to do this every year because your insurance coverage may change year to year.
  • Look for prescription assistance programs on (note: some rules are complex and eligibility may be difficult to understand - we suggest you seek help from a SHIP counselor to apply). These programs are offered by pharmaceutical companies and the restrictions vary by program.
Read more about Medicare's open enrollment in our SMP article (click here).
Seven Years in Prison for Lombard Dermatologist

In a Fraud Alert from last October, we reported the conviction of a Chicago area dermatologist on health care fraud charges. That dermatologist has now been sentenced to seven years in federal prison and ordered to pay back $3.7 million. Read more about this case in this U.S. Department of Justice press release (click here).
How Do You Stop Unwanted Calls?

How do you stop unwanted phone calls? This is a question the Illinois SMP at AgeOptions often gets. Those unwanted calls and texts can be annoying, and it seems like there is nothing you can do to stop them. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) put out a blog post about steps you can take to stop unwanted calls and texts (click here to read the post).  

As the article points out, you can add your number to the Do Not Call registry and if you continue to get solicitation calls, you know that they are not following the Do Not Call rules. Do not respond to these calls or texts (even to press 1) because all that will do is let the scammer know that there is a live person on the other end of the phone number they dialed.

AgeOptions Ideogram


Jason B. Echols, MSW,
Health Care Consumer Protection Coordinator
1048 Lake Street, Suite 300
Oak Park, IL 60301
phone (708)383-0258 fax (708)524-0870


AgeOptions, the Area Agency on Aging of Suburban Cook County, is committed to improving the quality of life and maintaining the dignity of older adults and those who care about them - through leadership and support, community partnerships, comprehensive services, accurate information and powerful advocacy.

Fraud Alerts contain information about current scams taking place in Illinois, announcements and updates about programs or services related to health care and/or fraud protection, and links to news articles about health care and fraud topics. Please forward any recommendations or announcements that you would like to be included in a future Fraud Alert to