Medical fraud is a pervasive issue that undermines the integrity of the healthcare system, affecting patients, providers, and taxpayers alike. As healthcare costs continue to rise, the impact of fraudulent activities reverberates far beyond financial losses. In fact, recent studies estimate that medical fraud costs the healthcare industry billions of dollars annually.
In this blog post, we’ll delve into the top 10 most common types of medical fraud, shedding light on their intricacies and the legal consequences they carry. Then, we’ll describe how to report healthcare fraud if you suspect it in your organization.
10 Most Common Medical Fraud Schemes
Upcoding involves deliberately assigning a higher billing code to a medical service or procedure than what was actually provided. This fraudulent practice leads to overbilling and higher reimbursements.
Unbundling occurs when separate procedures that should be billed as a single package are instead billed individually, resulting in inflated reimbursements.
- Phantom Billing
Phantom billing refers to billing for services or procedures that were never performed. This fraudulent practice deceives patients and insurers alike.
- Billing for Unnecessary Services
Billing for unnecessary tests, treatments, or services not medically required is a form of medical fraud that exploits the trust patients place in their healthcare providers.
Kickbacks involve offering or receiving incentives in exchange for patient referrals or business. This practice disrupts the fair allocation of medical services and undermines patient welfare.
- Medical Identity Theft
When patients use someone else’s identity to receive medical treatment, it not only compromises the victim’s information but also distorts the medical history of the identity thief.
- Prescription Drug Fraud
Prescription drug fraud encompasses actions such as forging prescriptions, doctor shopping, or selling prescription medications illegally.
- False Claims
Most of these fraud schemes fall under the umbrella of “false claims” and violate the False Claims Act (FCA). Submitting false claims for reimbursement, knowingly or unknowingly, is a significant issue in medical fraud.
- Medical Equipment Fraud
Fraudulent practices involving medical equipment include billing for equipment that was never provided or inflating the costs of equipment.
- Identity Fraud by Healthcare Providers
When healthcare providers use the credentials or billing information of another provider, it leads to a cascade of fraudulent activities.
The Consequences of Medical Fraud
Those involved in medical fraud can face criminal charges, including hefty fines and even imprisonment. But the consequences of these fraudulent schemes extend far beyond individual cases.
Healthcare fraud erodes the trust patients place in their healthcare providers, drives up healthcare costs, and undermines the integrity of the entire healthcare system.
Taxpayers foot the bill for these fraudulent activities, diverting funds that could otherwise be used for genuine patient care and medical advancements.
Seek Expert Guidance
Medical fraud continues to pose a significant threat to the healthcare system, affecting patients, providers, and taxpayers. By understanding the common types of medical fraud and their legal consequences, we can take steps toward creating a more transparent and trustworthy healthcare environment.
At DJO Whistleblower Law Firm, we specialize in helping healthcare whistleblowers bring many of these fraudulent activities to light. Our experienced team of healthcare whistleblower attorneys are well-versed in the nuances of the False Claims Act and whistleblower protection laws and can guide you through the process of reporting fraud.
If you’ve witnessed false claims, fraudulent kickbacks, risk adjustment fraud, managed care insurance fraud, or any other type of medical coding fraud or medical billing fraud in your healthcare facility, we’re here to assist you in ensuring justice is served. If you suspect or have evidence of medical fraud, don’t hesitate to contact us for a confidential and free consultation.
If a whistleblower’s lawsuit is successful, the reward can be up to 30% of the funds recovered. The False Claims Act also offers whistleblowers protection against job retaliation or wrongful termination. Together, we can end these fraudulent practices and contribute to a more just healthcare system for all.
authored by Christopher J. Piacentile
Director of Investigations DJO Whistleblower Law Group