The multi-billion dollar Medicare fraud industry tends to receive a good deal of coverage in the media. But one of the most prevalent types of Medicare fraud, the selling of electric wheelchairs to seniors who may not need them, cheats the senior as well as the taxpayer.

You may have seen the commercials for these chairs that carry such spirited names as the “Rascal” or the “Jazzy.” Ads for these chairs promise Medicare will pick up the tab and that the company will even help you fill out the paperwork. The reason these companies are so eager to take your order is that they receive Medicare reimbursements four times greater than their costs-$4,000 for a chair that costs $1,000.

Often the unsuspecting senior does not actually qualify for a Medicare-reimbursed chair because he or she retains some mobility. They may be told that reimbursement has been declined only after their chairs have been shipped. Or the chairs are reimbursed, but when they arrive, the seniors discover they are too big to use inside their homes. And once Medicare has been charged for one chair, it will not pay for another.

Although government pressure on fraudulent Medicare reimbursements has increased in recent years, many seniors continue to report high-pressure sales tactics by electric wheelchair companies. Salespeople have been known to falsely claim the chair will work with a senior’s existing car lift or that a new car lift is included with the chair. When chair components break, repairs are prohibitively expensive.

Seniors who believe they require an electric wheelchair for mobility should consult their physician in order to ensure proper Medicare reimbursement.

For more on Medicare fraud, see: