Medicare fraud is a serious issue that you need to report. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services says fraud can cost taxpayers billions of dollars. It can also interfere with the health of Medicare beneficiaries. That’s taxpayer money that’s going into the hands of unethical providers.
How to Report Medicare Fraud
You can call the Medicare fraud hotline or report the fraud by contacting one of these organizations:
- Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) Medicare fraud hotline at 1-800-HHS-TIPS
- Contact the HHS by mail at HHS Tips Hotline, PO Box 23489, Washington, DC 20026-348
- Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services at 1-800-MEDICARE
- Contact CMS by mail at Medicare Beneficiary Contact Center, PO Box 39, Lawrence, KS 66044
- You can report it by calling the CMS report hotline, or submit the information online.
Documents to Report Medicare Fraud
If you’re reporting Medicare fraud it’s helpful to have some of your information ready.
- Medicare number
- Provider information
- Information about the service that was supposedly provided
- and the reason you think fraud was committed
If a reported Medicare fraud leads to the recovery of funds, Medicare may provide a reward. If you or someone you know suspects fraud, waste, or abuse, report it immediately.
The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) states that Medicare fraud is:
- Intentionally billing Medicare for a service not provided
- Billing Medicare at a higher rate
- If a provider pays for referrals of Medicare beneficiaries
Medicare fraud is very serious, it’s not human error, it’s highly illegal and it involves doctors or beneficiaries abusing the system for their own benefit. Report Medicare fraud as soon as possible.
If a doctor ever says one of these things to you, report it immediately:
- The more tests that are done, the less you pay out-of-pocket
- Offers you a gift to get you to use their services
- Waives a copayment or says the co-payment is higher on a no-copay plan
- States you can receive coverage on a non-covered service
- The service or product Medicare endorses
If you have Medicare, you can look through your Medicare Summary Notice, and compare your statements as well as receipts from your providers.
So, you noticed a bill for a product or service not applicable? Contact the office to be sure of the mistake. If an error occurred, that’s Medicare abuse.
How to Identify and Report Medicare Abuse
When a provider doesn’t follow proper medical practices and issues of unnecessary tests, they are committing Medicare Abuse. Practices that result in unnecessary costs to Medicare are considered abusing the system. Medicare abuse is a serious crime and violators will be prosecuted. Abuse can be found when billing for unnecessary services, or services that aren’t medically necessary occur.
If you’re overcharged for services or supplies, then you’re a victim of Medicare abuse. However, if a provider misuses billing codes to increase reimbursement, then the doctor is committing Medicare abuse.
Medicare won’t use your name during the investigation of Medicare fraud, waste, or abuse if you don’t want them to, you can remain anonymous.
How to Identify and Report Medicare Waste
Some examples of waste include:
- Prescribing more medications than necessary for one specific condition
- Ordering excessive lab tests
- Conducting excessive office visits
If you know of someone misusing resources, understand that this is a serious offense. Any violators will be prosecuted because it costs taxpayers billions of dollars when waste occurs.
Penalties for violating the laws against fraud, waste, and abuse include:
- Civil prosecution
- Civil monetary penalty
- A criminal conviction, fines, or both
- Loss of professional license
- Exclusion from all Federal health care program participation
As a Medicare beneficiary, looking at your bills to check for fraud is your responsibility. If you think there may be an error, contact the doctor’s office.
If you think the error is intentional or the doctor admits to an error, you’ll need to report it. An error, intentionally or unintentionally, is Medicare Waste.
Differences between Medicare Fraud, Abuse, and Waste
- Fraud requires intent to obtain payment and knowing the action is wrong
- Abuse creates an unnecessary cost to the Medicare Program, without knowledge
- Waste may involve intent or knowledge but could also be unintentional
CMS Efforts to Stop Fraud, Waste, and Abuse
Medicare creates the Program Integrity Enhancements to the Provider Enrollment Process rule in an effort to end fraud, waste, and abuse. Basically, Medicare expects providers and suppliers to meet specific standards to remain in the Medicare program.
Program rules include providers and suppliers:
- Are unable to come back into the program under a different name
- Can’t bill from a non-compliant location
- No outstanding overpayment debts to Medicare
- Can’t abuse ordering of Part A, B, or D items
Applicants that submit false or misleading information risk being unable to participate in the Medicare program for up to 3 years. CMS has the ability to block up to 10 years. Second-time offenders can expect up to 20 years’ ban from the Medicare program. CMS hopes these measures will prevent bad actors from stealing tax dollars. In addition to the new rules, CMS is working hard on transparency initiatives.
How To Report Medicare Fraud, Abuse, and Waste
Reporting Medicare fraud is as simple as making a phone call. If you know Medicare fraud, waste, or abuse that's happening, it’s vital that you report the incident. As citizens, it’s our job to be courageous and prevent injustice from occurring again. Besides, sometimes there is a reward available to the person that reports Medicare fraud, waste, or abuse.