One of the biggest dialysis clinics in the US, DaVita HealthCare Partners Inc, is facing a lawsuit for allegedly over billing Medicare for as much as $800 million dollars. The lawsuit was filed by two men, Dr. Alon Vainer and Daniel Barbir, a nurse, who worked for the company. They claim that expensive medicine was being thrown out so the company could charge Medicare for more than was actually necessary.
Once a vial of medicine has been used to withdraw a dose, the bottle must be thrown away for health and safety reasons. What the doctor and nurse are claiming is that DaVita should be using smaller vials of the medicine so less is being wasted. The company is accused to over billing Medicare for as much as $800 million.
DaVita earns over two-thirds of its income from Medicare from its 2,000 dialysis clinics nationwide. Nonetheless, after investigating the allegations against the company, the federal government declined to pursue charges, although they stated that didn’t mean the company was innocent. If the two men win the case, they could receive millions of dollars, although the government would get the bulk of any judgment against the company.
How you can protect yourself from Medicare fraud
Medicare fraud is surprisingly common, and the government doesn’t have the resources to pursue every allegation, so they depend on whistleblower lawsuits like this one to catch companies defrauding the government. You can help protect your Medicare benefits from being abused to, although on a more personal level.
Steps you can take to prevent Medicare fraud
Protect your Medicare card.
Don’t give the number on it to anyone but your doctors, and never over the phone, as well as avoiding offers for free medical services or equipment. Those offering services for free don’t need to know your insurance numbers.
Also, examine your statements and watch for charges for services you never received, including equipment such as wheelchairs. You can check your Medicare statement online at MyMedicare.gov or your quarterly paper statement if you have traditional Medicare.
If you believe your insurance has been used fraudulently, report it to your local Senior Medicare Patrol Office and they will investigate for you. Do keep in mind that they investigate tens of thousands of cases each year, so you may not hear back about your claim. You can find your local SMP office by visiting smpresource.org. Don’t let yourself be a victim of Medicare fraud. Be aware of any charges to your Medicare account, so you won’t be denied needed services later.