By Mark Huffman

June 18, 2010
The Affordable Care Act passed by Congress and signed by President Obama earlier this year contains some important benefits for Medicare recipients. And scammers across the country have taken notice.

Starting last week many Medicare recipients began receiving e a one-time, tax-free $250 rebate check. Those who qualify for the tax-free $250 rebate will automatically receive their check, no additional information or actions are required to receive the rebate.

The check is designed to address a coverage gap in Medicare prescription drug plans. Medicare recipients on expensive or numerous drugs can find themselves paying the full cost of their prescription out-of-pocket while in the coverage gap.

The term "donut hole" refers to the coverage gap under Plan D, where Medicare stops paying pharmaceutical coverage at $2,830 before it starts paying again at $4,550. The one-time $250 tax-free rebate check for seniors that enter the "donut hole" is the federal government's first step toward closing the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap.

Scam artists are already trying profit by spreading misinformation about the $250 rebate checks. Oregon Attorney General John Kroger has already received reports of the scam in his state. He warns seniors not to give out personal information to anyone calling about the $250 rebate check.

Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto says scammers are calling seniors pretending to be connected to the Medicare program. They tell potential victims that they need to "verify" certain information. Masto says that's not true.

"Once you reach the threshold with Medicare, the rebate will be issued automatically," she said. "Do not give out personal information to anyone contacting you regarding your check."

Medicare recipients do not need to provide any personal information like their Medicare, Social Security, or bank account number to receive the rebate check. There are no additional forms to fill out. The rebate is tax-free.

Anyone who tells you anything different is trying to scam you. Medicare recipients can make sure the government has their correct home address by calling Social Security at 1-800-772-1213.