Medicare beneficiaries in Santa Barbara County are being warned about a genetic testing scam, as well as a cancer screening scam, by the Central Coast Commission for Senior Citizens, Area Agency on Aging.

“The genetic testing scam is offered as a ‘free’ test but isn’t free and may not be necessary,” said Barry Jay Marks, chairman of the Area Agency on Aging Advisory Council.

“Genetic testing needs to be ordered by your primary physician and be ‘medically necessary,’” he added.

Marks said scammers may approach seniors at senior centers or senor living facilities or may call Medicare beneficiaries and encourage them to have genetic testing or cancer screenings.

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The offer will include a free test kit and request that it be returned with the recipients insurance information, which will allow the scammers to bill Medicare for thousands of dollars of unnecessary tests.

California Senior Medicare Patrol advises seniors to never give their DNA to a stranger, beware of those who promise tests are 100% covered by Medicare and look for charges on Medicare summary notice statements for tests not ordered by a doctor.

For more information, contact Marks or Julie Posada, the Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program manager, at 805-928-5663 or, toll-free, 800-434-0222.

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County Reporter/Associate Editor

Lee Central Coast Newspapers associate editor Mike Hodgson covers Santa Barbara County government and events and issues in Santa Ynez Valley. Follow him on Twitter @MHodgsonSYVNews.