COMMENTARY | My husband and I pay almost $900 a month for health insurance. Yeah, it frustrates us when we write that check. Health insurance is compulsory in Massachusetts. Complaining isn't going to change that. I cannot come to grips, though, with medical professionals bilking millions of dollars from Medicare.
Thankfully, the Justice Department slammed the lid on the "here-help-yourself" cookie jar this week. My next health insurance bill won't hurt as much now.
As reported by Reuters, federal officials charged 107 doctors, nurses, and yes, some social workers across the country with fraudulently billing Medicare $452 million. That's not just criminal, it's disgraceful and immoral.
Stepping Up to Combat Fraud
I bet that plenty of people out there are still cheating Medicare. I hope, in time, they're busted, too. In 2007, the government stepped up its effort to battle widespread Medicare fraud. It created the Medicare Fraud Strike Force. Yep, it's the one time I'm likely to give a reluctant nod to the idea that big brother is watching.
An article at Boston Herald.com, written by Richard A. Serrano of the Tribune Washington Bureau, claims that 1,430 people were charged with health care fraud in 2011. We can credit the intensive crackdown on fraud to something in President Obama's health care directive.
Obama's health care mandate introduced a computer program that aids in recognizing fraudulent charges filed by health care providers. Learn to protect yourself against fraud or abuse of unnecessary medical procedures or improper payments at Medicare.gov.
Stiffing Us Taxpayers
Health care fraud ranges in inconceivable amounts from $20 to $100 billion a year. A 2010 ABC News report infers that fraud costs taxpayers $60 billion a year.
I buy everything with money I earn working my butt off. I put long hours in running a business. I live humbly. Sure, I'd love to splurge on something I don't need. I don't, though, because I know I can't afford it. Do you think the people who are living large on fraud profits pass on trivial buys? I say "no."
I do find some comfort in what I discovered: When the hammer comes down and someone's arrested on Medicare (or Medicaid) fraud, all the extravagant goodies they bought with "ill-gotten gains" are seized and sold. The prospect of these thieves kissing their extravagant homes, cars, and boats goodbye leaves me with a warm and fuzzy feeling.
Yesterday, when I read that eight people in Los Angeles, including two doctors, were charged with billing Medicare $20 million for services they never performed, it turned my stomach. Now I better go write that $900 check for my health insurance because I'm still feeling ill.