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Be wary of TV pitches for back and knee braces

Q:  I’ve been having lower back pain for quite some time. It gets worse after too much physical activity. I’ve seen commercials on T.V. promoting back and knee braces covered by Medicare. If it isn’t going to cost me anything is there any reason why I shouldn’t call the number?

A:  So glad you contacted us before you made that call. Our advice … don’t make that call. We have been receiving numerous questions and complaints from consumers regarding the various braces advertised. First of all, while you may actually receive a brace there is no guarantee the brace will be what you expected or be the kind of brace that will actually provide relief for your discomfort. It is risky to use any brace that has not been prescribed by your personal physician or physical therapist that is familiar with your condition. A specialist would take precise body measurements to insure the brace would fit properly.

The ads can be misleading, you could actually be responsible for a co-payment. Some consumers have received additional products they had absolutely no use for nor had they ordered. In addition Medicare could incur an exorbitant amount for a device that is not of good quality. Consumers are reminded to be diligent in never providing your Medicare or Social Security numbers to anyone other than trusted and known medical providers. Once a company that may be fraudulent or disreputable has your personal information they could conceivably pass this on to other companies.

We strongly encourage any Medicare beneficiary who has received any kind of brace whether it was in response to an ad,postcard or in some cases unsolicited, to contact the Massachusetts Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) at 1-800-892-0890 or www.MASMP.org. You are advised to keep all package contents. Carefully check any Medicare Summary Notices received. The goal of SMP is to prevent healthcare errors, fraud and abuse.

 

Are you struggling caring for an older adult or having difficulty locating resources? Our staff is available for a no-cost consultation, set up at your convenience, to help guide you through your caregiving experience. For more details or to schedule an appointment, please call 800-892-0890.

Do you have a question? We encourage inquiries and comments from our readers. Please direct your correspondence to ageinfo@esmv.org or Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley, Inc., Age Information Department, 280 Merrimack Street, Suite 400, Lawrence, MA 01843. Joan Hatem-Roy is the Chief Executive Officer of Elder Services.