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Your Medicare Contributions are being Pilfered by Sick Care

Thursday, November 11, 2010 by: Michelle Matte
Tags: Medicare, paychecks, health news

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(NewsTarget) If you've looked at your paycheck stub lately, you may have noticed that a generous portion of your hard-earned wages goes to Medicare. Perhaps you get a warm fuzzy feeling thinking that Grandma is being given the best healthcare in the world, and that, one day, you will too when you need it. But what you may not realize is that millions, perhaps billions, of Medicare dollars are providing extravagant lifestyles for unscrupulous individuals, companies and agencies who exploit the elderly while lining their own pockets at your expense.

HEAT Initiative 2009

In May of 2009, the Obama administration launched the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT). Co-chaired by Deputy Attorney General David Ogden and Deputy Secretary Bill Carr, the initiative is a cooperative effort between the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services. The aim of the task force is to prevent health care fraud and enforce existing anti-fraud laws. Within a month of its inception, charges were brought against 53 doctors, health care executives and beneficiaries for over 50 million dollars in false Medicare billing in the city of Detroit alone. Similar charges have since been filed in cities nationwide. False billing is just one of many insidious ways Sick Care bilks a fortune from our Medicare contributions.

Widespread Prevalence of Medicare Fraud

Health care and insurance fraud that targets Medicare recipients is so widespread that the FBI website devotes an entire page to fraud against senior citizens. Perpetrators know that seniors are vulnerable, and that they place a high level of trust in health care providers and the products they promote. Medicare is a cash cow for individuals and businesses that are unscrupulous when it comes to exploiting the elderly. Since the money comes from the government, courtesy of you and me, seniors are less likely to scrutinize their medical bills or question the validity of treatments and procedures.

Schemes and Scams or just Business as Usual?

In a press release, Attorney General Holder promised his office would "strike back against those whose fraudulent schemes not only undermine a program upon which 45 million aged and disabled Americans depend, but which also contribute directly to rising health care costs that all Americans must bear."

But what about the many treatments, procedures and prescription medications which are everyday parts of geriatric care? In a 2003 Drug Trend Report by Medco Health, it was disclosed that one in four seniors sees four or more doctors regularly, and one in ten was prescribed medication by six or more doctors in 2002. The report noted that the average senior citizen received 25 prescriptions annually at a yearly cost equivalent to the amount spent by a typical family of four.

One can only speculate that if Medicare were not footing the bill and if the money for drugs and treatments were an out-of-pocket expense, recipients and their families would be more prudent in questioning doctors and challenging prognoses.


U. S. Department of Health and Human Services: Medicare Strike Force Operations Lead to Charges http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2009pres/06/20...

Federal Bureau of Investigation: Fraud Target: Seniors

Drug Danger: Millions of Senior Citizens Given Drug Overdoses

About the author

Michelle M. Matte, CSCS, is an educator and personal trainer. She also writes for Livestrong.com.

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