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Medicare Fraud Essay

927 words - 4 pages

Collectively, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice work to reduce healthcare fraud and investigate dishonest providers and suppliers. The Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team recouped almost 3 billion in fraud, this year alone. Also, aggressive strategies exist to eliminate Medicare prescription fraud. Patients abusing or selling painkillers received by visiting several doctors and obtaining multiple prescriptions costs Medicare millions annually. Fraud affects everyone, preventing it requires government officials and citizens diligently working together.

Protection from Medicare Insurance Fraud

Medicare provides healthcare coverage for individuals over the age of 65, in addition, to others meeting certain criteria. The government funds Medicare through the administration of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid and spends billions annually, on the program. Fraud runs rampantly throughout the healthcare program due to the enormous amount of money spent and the large number of people enrolled in the program. Fighting fraud of this nature necessitates diligence by everyone. Protecting oneself entails understanding what constitutes fraud, identifying it, noting suspicious practices, and taking steps towards prevention.


Medicare fraud occurs when healthcare providers, suppliers, and private companies charge for services or supplies patients never receive. Additionally, abuse of the Medicare program also occurs because physicians and suppliers do not always follow best medical practices which leads to excessive costs through improper payments, or medically unnecessary services, both of which abuse the program. Conservative estimates suggest healthcare fraud and abuse account for approximately ten percent of all Medicare and Medicaid annual expenses, costing billions in tax dollars.

Common fraudulent practices include billing for services never received, upcoding or unbundling of services, and mislabeling. Billing dishonest services occurs anytime a healthcare provider charges Medicare for a service the patient never received or billing for a more expensive service than performed. Upcoding and unbundling, two examples of billing for a more expensive service demonstrate this fraudulent practice. Simply put, upcoding occurs by billing more expensive codes than the services performed, while unbundling refers to a “bundled” service broken down or unbundled, allowing procedures billed separately to obtain a higher reimbursement than customary. Mislabeling, the practice of substituting non-covered services or products with services or products covered under Medicare guidelines also constitutes fraud. For example, a home healthcare company commits fraud by mislabeling house cleaning services, not covered by Medicare, as a nurse visit in order to receive payment. A pharmacy filling a patient’s prescription with generic drugs and charging for name brand drugs...

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