Health care fraud, like any form of fraud, involves a distortion of the truth. Offenders prey on unsuspecting patients, who hand over confidential information in good faith, only to use it for their financial gain.
As unthinkable as it sounds, the elderly population is highly susceptible due to their trusting nature and economic power, which both come with age.
Tips to protect yourself from scams
Per the National Health Care Anti-Fraud Association, financial losses resulting from health care fraud reach staggering billions of dollars each year. At the core of these monetary damages are victims constantly exposed to unsafe medical procedures.
So, Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Insurance and Financial Services, and Medicare/Medicaid Assistance Program join forces in alerting older adults against potential perpetrators. If you are in your senior years or have an elderly loved one, you must:
- Never give personal information to unknown entities: Scammers often target your Medicare number. But the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will never send a message or email, call, approach you in public or even visit you at home just to solicit vital information. Hence, beware of any caller ID you have not encountered before.
- Read and take notes about your medical services: No one can easily take advantage of you if you know your benefits. This includes the health care professional taking care of you, licensed facilities where you receive treatment, medications you take and other additional services you have yet to take on. This way, you do not subject yourself to unnecessary and overbilled tests or prescriptions.
- Ignore “free” services: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. If you are unsure how to proceed with a free offer, clarify with your insurance company first.
Learning about your rights and responsibilities as a Michigan patient can save you from the dangers of health care fraud.
The state’s doctors, pharmacists, nurses and other medical professionals accused of overcharging, receiving kickbacks and other deceptive practices may face steep fines of as much as $50,000 and 15 years behind bars.
Fraud impacts everyone
Fraudulent practices are pervasive across multiple sectors of society. The disabled who are prone to abuse, taxpayers at risk of increased health care payments, employers at risk of increased business costs caused by employee insurance benefits and health care providers whose integrity lies in the balance, all share the burden of health care fraud. By seeking accountability with the help of your legal team, you protect yourself and other future victims. In the end, you become part of the solution to advance the nation’s standard of care.