DOI News

For Immediate Release: Contact:
March 23, 2009 Kristin Milam
Johanna Royo
919-807-6011
 
Woman Arrested on Charges of Identity Theft Involving Medicare Recipients
 
RALEIGH -- Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin today announced the arrest of Melissa Swain Parrish, 36, 8423 Meadow View Lane, Bahama. According to the warrant, Parrish stole the identities of more than 100 people, some of whom were dead, and signed them up for Medicare Advantage plans. According to the investigation, she collected commissions totaling more than $7,000 for the false applications.
 
Parrish is charged with one count of identity theft and one count of obtaining property by false pretense. She surrendered her agent's license and is being held on a $100,000 secured bond. Parrish was a contract agent with Miracle Insurance Company of Raleigh.
 
Department of Insurance investigators learned of the scheme when one of the victims contacted the Orange County Sheriff's Office, which passed the complaint on to the Department's Seniors' Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP). SHIIP provides unbiased information about Medicare and related insurance products to Medicare recipients or caregivers. Staff members at SHIIP are working with Medicare to identify and assist victims across the state who were targeted in this scam.
 
Medicare Advantage plans have been involved in similar scams and investigations in recent years. To protect themselves from being a victim of Medicare fraud, Medicare recipients should know the following about Medicare Advantage plans:
 
  • You should fully understand the details and terms regarding Medicare Advantage plans, and the plan you are looking at specifically. Some things to note include:
 
    1. These plans are part of the Medicare program and provide Part A, Part B and sometimes additional benefits.
    2. You may have to pay a monthly premium, or you may have out-of-pocket costs such as copays.
    3. Medigap or Medicare Supplement policies do not coordinate with any Medicare Advantage plan.
 
  • Not all doctors or hospitals accept all Medicare Advantage plans. Make sure your healthcare providers will accept the plan you are considering before you buy it, or you may be stuck paying for all your charges yourself! Call your doctor and ask before you buy.
  • Insurance agents cannot come to your home without permission. If they call you to schedule an appointment, first take these steps:
 
    1. Get the agent's name, the company name, and a phone number.
    2. Call back to verify the person is who he says he is. If you have any doubts, SHIIP can tell you if that person is a licensed agent; call 1-800-443-9354.
    3. Try to schedule the appointment for a time when a trusted family member or financial advisor can be with you. Someone you trust can help you make a decision in your best interest without giving in to any sales pressures from the agent.
 
  • If you have other health insurance, such as your employer plan through retiree coverage, check with that plan before you enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan.
  • Do not be pressured into making quick decisions. The agent can wait for you to think this over, discuss it with someone else, call your doctor and/or call SHIIP for assistance. SHIIP counselors are specifically trained to assist you with your health insurance questions. Call 1-800-443-9354.
The Department of Insurance employs 20 sworn law enforcement officers dedicated to investigating claims of insurance fraud. In 2008, these investigators saw more than 453 cases successfully closed with more than $5.8 million in restitution and recoveries, 60 criminal convictions and 130 arrests.
 
An estimated 10 cents of every dollar paid in premiums goes toward the payment of fraudulent claims. To report suspected fraud, contact the Department of Insurance Investigations Division at (919) 807-6840. Callers may remain anonymous. Information is also available at the NC-DOI Web site.
 
-- NCDOI --