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Healthcare fraud is more damaging than you probably imagine. Though committed by a very small number of people, healthcare fraud affects every patient, doctor and hospital in the country, wasting billions of dollars every year. A goal of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Service Benefit Plan is to preserve healthcare quality and affordability. That’s why we’re working with hospitals, doctors, consumers and, where appropriate, law enforcement agencies to identify and stop healthcare fraud.
What is healthcare fraud?
Everyone makes the occasional mistake, especially in an industry as complex as healthcare. Rest assured, inadvertent errors are not considered fraudulent.
Healthcare fraud is the intentional, unlawful misrepresentation or deception for the purpose of gaining unauthorized benefits - financial or otherwise. Abuse is defined as reckless conduct that goes against and is inconsistent with acceptable business and/or medical practices resulting in greater reimbursement.
Fraud and abuse can compromise patient safety and future care. One example of patient harm is unnecessary, sometimes invasive, medical procedures. A provider who enters false codes on a patient for purposes of greater reimbursement leaves the patient with a false diagnosis being associated with their or their family’s medical history.
Common examples of medical and pharmacy healthcare fraud
Fraudulent schemes are limited only by the imagination of the individual committing the fraud. Common examples are:
- Billing for services not rendered
- Billing for medically unnecessary services
- Misrepresentation of services
- Misrepresentation of identity Ineligible dependents
- Altered claims (medical/prescription)
- Thin air scripts
- Doctor shopping
- Falsification of application (SF 2809)
What the BCBS Service Benefit Plan is doing about fraud
The National Health Care Anti-Fraud Association estimates that the financial losses due to healthcare fraud are in the tens of billions of dollars each year. And with healthcare costs going up every year, so too are the costs of healthcare fraud.
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Service Benefit Plan invests in numerous programs that raise the industry standard for healthcare fraud prevention.
- Each Blue Cross and Blue Shield company has its own investigative unit that actively pursues fraudulent activities and the recovery of monies lost to fraudulent or abusive activities.
- Computer and software technology analyzes millions of claims for patterns of suspicious billing activity.
- The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Anti-Fraud Task Force works with medical professionals and government agencies to uncover fraud in multiple states.
- Our Blue Cross and Blue Shield Anti-Fraud Hotlines receive more than 80,000 calls a year.
Fraud prevention and you
Blue Cross and Blue Shield is committed to protecting our members, healthcare providers, and federal benefits against healthcare fraud. But we can’t stop healthcare fraud alone. We need the participation and support of institutions and individuals.
How you can help
- Think of your healthcare card as being as valuable as your credit card. If you think your card was stolen, you should contact your local Plan and request a new contract ID when you request a new card to prevent unauthorized use.
- Carefully review your Explanation of Benefit (EOB) notices and medical bills and verify dates, reasons and costs to ensure that you and/or the Service Benefit Plan is being billed for services that were actually received.
- Be aware of “free” services. If patients are asked to provide their insurance card, the service may not be free and could be fraudulently charged to them or their insurance company.
- Avoid using professionals who tell you they know how to bill for uncovered services.
- Do not leave your ex-spouse on your contract after your divorce has been finalized. If you have been ordered by the court to cover your ex-spouse for an extended period of time you must first terminate your ex-spouse from your contract which must be proven via copy of divorce decree and provide new coverage for them under a separate policy or contract.
- Do not include anyone on your contract that is not legally considered your spouse or dependent.
- Maintain clear and accurate records relating to your medical history including dates of office visits and prescriptions.
These efforts are making a difference. With your help, we can do even more to preserve healthcare quality and affordability.
If you suspect fraud
The FEP Fraud Hotline at 1-800-337-8440
The United States Office of Personnel Management
Office of the Inspector General
1900 E Street, NW
Room 6400 Washington, DC 20415-1100
Click here to contact the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plan in your area.
When reporting suspicions of fraud, please be sure to include the following information:
- Your name
- Your contract number, if applicable
- The date and time of your call
- A telephone number where you can be reached and the best time to call
- Email address
- Be sure to clearly identify the person or entity you are calling about
- The service dates in question
- State briefly the nature of your concern or complaint
Medical Identity Theft
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, recently published the free consumer brochure, Medical Identity Theft. The publication explains how medical identity theft occurs, how it differs from traditional identity theft, offers tips to minimize your risk and how to recover should you experience a theft. To order copies in bulk, please visit bulkorder.ftc.gov.