Friday, November 5, 2010, AM | 3 Comments
Medicare fraud costs $60 billion a year. It is obviously a huge burden on the $500 billion program for older and disabled Americans. That’s 12% fraud on the whole system. That’s a lot of money but is not spent on our senior citizens. Instead it goes straight in the pockets of crooks, scums and schmucks. It’s a white collar crime. News suggests that doctors, nurses, clinics of all types are involved. It’s free money for them and the crooks keep filling their pockets with it.
One specific case…
Miami, FL is considered the capital of Medicare fraud. Dr. Jorge J. Dieppa, a 56-year old physician, was wanted on charges of taking bribes. What he did was referred hundreds of patients to Home Health Care agencies. HHC then submitted about $19 million in bogus and phony claims to Medicare. The program paid almost $12 million to the doctor’s alleged ring of scammers that included six nurses, two patient recruiters and a Medicare beneficiary who received kickbacks.
For the crooks and the scums, it is quite common to charge Medicare for physical and occupational therapy that are never performed. They bill Medicare for HIV infusions – a treatment outdated for the last decade – that patients never receive. In one case, court documents revealed 3,700 claims for one woman during a six-year period. That comes out to be more than 50 a month.
Medicare is now a financial magnet not only for certain health care workers but for organized crime as well. It is slowly replacing drug dealing which can be at times quite violent as a business whereas Medicare fraud is a peaceful money-making machine. After years of infecting South Florida’s health care industry, it has spread out to other regions of the country.
Something must be done…
An ever-increasing number of aging boomers will further put intense pressure on the Medicare system. The Justice Department must speed up their investigations about such white-collar crimes. Otherwise, we would lose the estimated $60 billion every year. And that is by no means small change. Many countries have smaller budgets than the Medicare fraud.
Apart from Justice Department’s efforts, somehow Medicare should change the way it does business. Preventing fraudulent Medicare claims from being paid can be far more effective than completely relying on law-enforcement officials. Historically, defrauding Medicare has been easy and extremely lucrative. That’s why of all the fraudulent cases in other aspects of our lives, Medicare fraud has been infiltrated by organized crimes as well as medical clinics and doctors.
What can Medicare recipients do individually?
There are a few steps seniors can take to protect their Medicare benefits.
Protect your Medicare card
You protect your credit card and Social Security card, right? Protect your Medicare card the same way. Never ever give your information on the phone no matter how much they try to convince you for it.
Free service is not always free
If someone calling you offers you free service and ask for your insurance information, don’t give it. This can be a scam to collect Medicare numbers to use for fraud.
Don’t accept offer for something you don’t need
You may be offered free equipment such as dialysis machines, don’t accept it. Hang up and do research on your own.
Read Medicare Part D statement carefully
If you are a part of this prescription drug plan, read the statement very carefully every month. In case you find an error, call your doctor or medical provider.
Check your credit report
Get your free credit report and check to see if it has any unpaid medical bills. The unpaid bill without your knowledge may be a sign of Medicare fraud.
Get more information
For more information on preventing and reporting Medicare fraud, click on Stop Medicare Fraud. This is a government website. Also, you may have received a handbook from Medicare. Read the fraud section of the “Medicare and You” carefully. Ask questions if you don’t follow certain things.
In a Nutshell
I have been blogging for 2 years basically to write articles and provide information on doable finance. But I regret the day when I started it. There is no money in it. Zilch, nothing. What I should have done is move to South Florida, connect with interested doctors and health care agencies, make free Medicare money, sit on the beach and enjoy the sun.