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Medicare Scam

Medicare Scam

Remember when people in Louisiana were using the social security numbers of the deceased to collect funds from FEMA? Well, the same thing is happening again, only this time its suppliers who are committing fraud. Medical equipment companies are using the Medicare system like their own personal ATM. By submitting claims using the Medicare ID numbers of deceased doctors, the fraudulent companies have collected between $77 million to $92 million over the last seven years. More disturbing is the fact that the government became aware of the problem in 2001 and never did anything to fix it.

With rising costs of Medicare, the government has begun an investigation into the problem, hoping to recoup some losses, and do a better job of keeping the criminals out of the system. As part of a new security process, doctors will now have to re-enroll in order to receive their Medicare ID number, which should eliminate deceased doctors’ numbers from the system. To give an example of how much this costs the system, one doctor’s number had been used 484 times between 2003 and 2006, netting the company about $544,789. The system to renew ID numbers should have been instituted long before these problems cropped up.

What’s your take on this? Are you surprised that the government did nothing when they learned of the scam? Will you be relying on Medicare as you're planning for retirement?

[USA Today]

Posted: 7/9/08