What Does Health Care Fraud Look Like?
The majority of health care fraud is committed by organized crime groups and a very small minority of dishonest health care providers. The most common types of health care fraud include:
- Billing for services that were never rendered-either by using genuine patient information, sometimes obtained through identity theft, to fabricate entire claims or by padding claims with charges for procedures or services that did not take place.
- Billing for more expensive services or procedures than were actually provided or performed, commonly known as "upcoding"-i.e., falsely billing for a higher-priced treatment than was actually provided (which often requires the accompanying "inflation" of the patient's diagnosis code to a more serious condition consistent with the false procedure code).
- Performing medically unnecessary services solely for the purpose of generating insurance payments.
- Misrepresenting non-covered treatments as medically necessary covered treatments for purposes of obtaining insurance payments-widely seen in cosmetic-surgery schemes, in which non-covered cosmetic procedures such as "nose jobs" are billed to patients' insurers as deviated-septum repairs.
- Falsifying a patient's diagnosis to justify tests, surgeries or other procedures that aren't medically necessary.
- Unbundling - billing each step of a procedure as if it were a separate procedure.
- Billing a patient more than the co-pay amount for services that were prepaid or paid in full by the benefit plan under the terms of a managed care contract.
- Accepting kickbacks for patient referrals.
- Waiving patient co-pays or deductibles for medical or dental care and over-billing the insurance carrier or benefit plan (insurers often set the policy with regard to the waiver of co-pays through its provider contracting process; while, under Medicare, routinely waiving co-pays is prohibited and may only be waived due to "financial hardship").