Unintended Consequence of ObamaCare: Patient Mills

Question: Why do liberals keep passing laws that have been proven to make the situation worse or completely fail in their intended purpose?

Answer: Because it makes them feel good.

Thomas Purcell is a contributor to The Brenner Brief.

Thomas Purcell is a regular contributor to       The Brenner Brief.

That feel good legislation is the single most reason we got Obamacare, and the law of unintended consequences strikes again. In the past few years, more and more insurance policies have been brought into compliance with Obamacare guidelines. All health insurance policies will cover everything in regards to preventive care, including labs and exam fees.

Now this sounds good if your policy doesn’t cover it now, but in reality it’s going to cost us a lot more money, but not in the way you think. Sure, premiums go up because of additional costs but that is small potatoes relative to the real threat.

What I’m talking about is health insurance fraud in the form of “patient mills.

The way it works is that typically the doctor (or bogus doctor) gives out free physical exams to now-covered patients, or provides them an application for free Medicaid. He then bills the insurance company for excessive sums. The fraud becomes more enormous and complex as the doctor gets greedy — paying off illegal immigrants and homeless people to wait for free medical exams which take 5 minutes, and then the doctor collects a hefty fee from the insurance company. In some cases, medical procedures are performed on the willing (and some not so willing) participants.

Appendectomies, gall bladder removals and other minor procedures cost thousands of dollars and are quick and easy to do, and no one is the wiser. These mills are quite profitable and hard to detect.

While patient mills have been around for some time, the size and scope of them has increased in recent years as insurance policies cover more and more free exams. Heaven only knows how it will expand when everyone is eligible for coverage in 2014.

Worse, the new health care rules have inadvertently made it more likely these mills will operate.  In U.S. v. Villaspring Health Care Center, Inc., a US federal court held that a doctor need not be held accountable for services rendered that are “worthless or ineffectual,” just that the services rendered were done. In short, giving patients pain shots was legal as long as an injection was done.

While the government touts its fraud recovery in the last few years, it indicates a strong upswing in fraud and has made it more difficult to prosecute in a system where medical care is guaranteed to be paid.  This costs all of us in the form of higher premiums, and now, higher taxes.

Although it is too late to revoke this law, it is proof that the more we tamper with the plumbing the easier it is to stop up the drain. This is often the case when we pass laws that intend to cure social ills; it fails miserably, and in doing so makes the situation worse.

The only solution to this sort of madness is free markets and free trade. When insurance covered only what was paid for in the form of premiums and people accepted a share in those costs, this type of fraud was unheard of. Now, it’s becoming commonplace. If you think fraud under Medicare was profitable for crooks, under Obamacare it’s a sheer boon.

In a few short years it will become part of system — institutionalized criminality and reversing all the benefits from quality health care that were developed over the last 100 years. This is the mantra of liberalism and emblematic of growing leftism in society.

 

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