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SCAM ALERT: Genetic Testing

Iowans on Medicare need to be aware of companies promoting a “free” genetic (or DNA) test to screen for cancer.  Individuals are falsely told that Medicare covers this test.  The individual is asked to swab their cheek to collect a DNA sample to send to a lab for analysis.  People are being targeted at community events, senior centers, and housing complexes.  They are also contacted over the phone and told they will receive a DNA kit to return with their cheek swab.  In both situations, they are told the test will be covered completely by Medicare, and all that is needed to process it is their Medicare number.

What to know:

  • Medicare does NOT cover genetic testing as a screening and preventive benefit. Medicare only pays for DNA or genetic testing in rare circumstances where it is medically necessary for treatment or diagnosis of a medical condition.
  • These tests must be ordered by the patient’s own physician.
  • There must be documentation in medical records to substantiate the need for testing.

What to do:

  1. Don’t fall for this scam. If you are approached, do not participate.
  2. If you are contacted by phone, hang up! Do not answer any questions, give out any personal information, or your Medicare number.
  3. Report the scam to SMP at (800)351-4664. Get the name, address and phone number of the company offering the testing and any materials you are given to provide to SMP.  SMP will report these businesses to the Medicare Office of Inspector General for investigation.
  4. Remember – Medicare will not call you to confirm your personal information, your Medicare number, or ask questions about your health. Contact the Iowa SMP at (800) 351-4664 to report suspicious requests for your Medicare number.
  5. If you mistakenly give your NEW Medicare number to a scammer, call 1-800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227) to report the theft of your number and request a new Medicare number. If you give your old Medicare number, which includes a Social Security number, call the FTC Identity Theft helpline at 877-ID-THEFT (877-438-4338).
  6. Review your Medicare Summary Notices for fraudulent claims or errors.


The Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) helps identify and report possible Medicare fraud, errors and abuse.  SMP is a service of the Iowa SHIIP and State of Iowa Insurance Division.  All services are free, confidential and unbiased. 

This project was supported, in part by grant number 90MPPG0046-01, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects under government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official Administration for Community Living policy.