Doctor Fraud

Google “doctor fraud” and watch the results pile up.  From all over the country and from all specialties come allegations of doctors committing fraud, most often against Medicare, Medicaid and insurance companies.  These physicians, whom we entrust with our lives and the lives of  our families, are crooks pure and simple.  They lie to make money to which they are not entitled.  In addition to cheating those who pay for health care, some doctors defraud their patients by treating them for illnesses they do not have or by performing surgical procedures on them that they do not need.  Sometimes the desperate grab for money is motivated by drugs or by alcohol but often by pure greed.

There does not appear to be any common denominator.  The crooked doctors come from all over.  Some are foreign born and foreign trained but many more are good old Americans.  Many of these physicians are well-respected in their communities and their patients are shocked to discover that their doctor is a cheat.  They are especially surprised when it develops that their doctor was treating them for an illness they did not have.  Sometimes, while they did not have the illness for which they were being treated, they had another illness which went untreated because the doctor could make more money treating the non-existent one.

Even when it is not a patient who is being directly defrauded or mistreated, these are not victimless crimes.  All of us pay for insurance fraud and for Medicare fraud.  There is only so much money for health care and when money is siphoned off by crooks, it lessens the amount available to treat those who need it.  Fraud also contributes to the insolvency of Medicare and to high premiums for private health insurance.  Fraud also hits home because overbilling by a health care provider may leave the patient with higher co-pays or other charges which should never have been incurred in the first place.

We all have a responsibility to watch for and report billing fraud.  Here is a link to a Medicare web page with resources for spotting fraud and reporting it.  Don’t let them rip you off.

Posted in Fee for Service, Health Care Costs, Medical Costs, medical ethics, Medicare |