Originally published August 3 2014
Obamacare system makes fraud easy: Investigators obtain insurance subsidies using fake IDs
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) There is so much wrong with the 2,700-plus page law that is derisively known as Obamacare that it is difficult to keep up with all of the problems -- such as the inevitable waste, fraud and abuse that it will engender.
In recent months, undercover investigators managed to obtain thousands of dollars in taxpayer subsidies under Obamacare, because they used fake identities, according to their findings, which were recently presented to Congress.
The investigation, launched by the non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO), Congress' watchdog, has raised brand-new concerns about the ability of the massive healthcare program to stop or help intercept expensive fraud schemes.
As reported by The Associated Press (AP), in the case of the GAO investigation, 11 out of 12 applications that were submitted using "fictitious identities" were accepted through Obamacare exchanges, which resulted in subsidized health coverage.
'It works well for those who don't exist'
"For each of our 11 approved applications, we paid the required premiums to put policies into force, and are continuing to pay the premiums. For the 11 applications that were approved for coverage, we obtained the advance premium tax credit in all cases," said the GAO report.
According to the watchdog agency, the total amount for those credits was $2,500 month, which adds up to $30,000 a year.
GAO officials testified about their findings in front of a House Ways and Means subcommittee in late July.
"We are seeing a trend with Obamacare information systems: under every rock, there is incompetence, waste, and the potential for fraud," Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., chairman of the committee, said in a statement. "This law is already hitting Americans where it hurts the most - their pocketbooks. Now, this administration is forcing the American taxpayer to foot the bill for Obamacare's waste and fraud."
Added Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, "Ironically, the GAO has found Obamacare is working really well -- for those who don't exist."
The agency carried out its investigation and inquiries in several different states, so the findings are not endemic to one region or one Obamacare exchange.
The Obama Administration countered, however, that six of the GAO's phony online applications were blocked by eligibility checks that are built into the computer systems at HealthCare.gov, the federal online exchange. Nevertheless, the agency said its undercover investigators still found a way around the blocks by phoning the call centers, where they were able to enroll in the end.
In those six applications, AP reported:
GAO investigators also tried to sign up fake applicants with in-person representatives. But in five of those cases, GAO was "unable to obtain in-person assistance" for various reasons, including one representative saying they could not help because HealthCare.gov was down.
Getting subsidized coverage, one way or the other
"We are examining this report carefully and will work with GAO to identify additional strategies to strengthen our verification processes," Obama Administration spokesman Aaron Albright said.
On paper anyway, those who defraud the system face the risk of prosecution and heavy fines.
GAO officials said their investigators devised phony IDs using fake Social Security numbers and then falsely claiming citizenship or legal residence. In some cases, they fabricated income figures that would normally have disqualified them from receiving subsidies.
Chief among the GAO's findings
-- Contractors who wound up processing the applications for the government told the watchdog that their role was not to root out potential fraud.
-- Five of six fake phone applications went through successfully. The single exception pertained to an applicant who would not provide a Social Security number.
-- A half-dozen online applicants were captured by an identity checking system, but investigators simply dialed a call center and got all six of them approved, which seemed to provide an unimpeded pathway to coverage, no matter what.
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