Seniors warned about scam offering free genetic testing

By  | 

LAS VEGAS, Nev. (KOLO)-- Nevada’s senior citizens are being warned about the latest fraud, this one offering free genetic tests to people who receive Medicare.

The tests might also be called DNA screenings, cancer screenings or hereditary testing and company representatives go door-to-door or visit senior centers, senior housing, veterans events, health fairs, and other locations where people gather to convince people to let them take a cheek swab for testing, the Nevada Senior Medicare Patrol said Wednesday in a statement.

The pitch is that the senior just needs to give the cheek swab and a Medicare number for test results that will fight disease or find the right medications.

“These companies can steal people’s medical identity and falsely bill Medicare, draining the system of needed funds,” Kim Harney-Moore, Director of the Nevada Senior Medicare Patrol, said in a statement. “Tests ordered under these circumstances are unnecessary and could lead to confusion about someone’s health condition.”

Doctors must request the tests as required by Medicare law, the Senior Medicare Patrol said. The patient might up owing for the tests.

“A doctor who has never met or examined a patient, often hired by a genetic testing company, should not be authorizing any tests. That’s a red flag,” said Harney-Moore.

Its recommendations:

  • Refuse to give their Medicare number and/or personal information (such as their Social Security number) to any person or business offering screening services, including cheek swabs or blood tests, at community events, local fairs, farmer’s markets, parking lots, and/or similar event

  • Decline participation in screening or genetic testing with anyone that is not their own doctor

  • Go to their own doctor to assess their condition or needed screenings, not a doctor on the phone they’ve never met from a company they don’t know

  • Always read their Medicare Summary Notice (MSN) or Explanation of Benefits (EOB). 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 their physician

  • Contact their local SMP for help. SMPs empower and assist Medicare beneficiaries, their families, and caregivers to prevent, detect, and report health care fraud, errors, and abuse.

For additional information, contact Nevada Senior Medicare Patrol at 888-838-7305 or