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Government recovers $4 billion in health fraud

Andrew Freiburghouse | January 24, 2011

It appears that health care consumers are not the only ones looking to save a little money. The federal government collected $4 billion through health care fraud prevention and enforcement efforts, according to a CNNMoney.com report.

The acts of fraud were generally against Medicare and Medicaid, and mostly in the form of over billing, the report said. The Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team, which was created by the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services, issued 40 indictments against 284 defendants for more than $590 million in fraudulent Medicare billing. In total, the government opened 1,116 criminal health care fraud investigations, resulting in the conviction of 726 defendants over the course of the year.

Health insurance fraud among pharmas

What really is amazing is almost half of the recovered $4 billion came from manufacturers of prescription medications. Botox-manufacturer Allergan ($600 million), Novartis ($422.50 million) and AstraZeneca ($520 million) were fined over marketing practices, including saying one or more of their drugs could do things it wasn't proven to do. AstraZeneca was also fined for giving kickbacks to doctors. And we wonder why our prescription drug costs and supplemental health insurance premiums are so high.

The next time you receive a new prescription, or if you're a Medicare and Medicaid recipient, and you suspect some monkey business is happening, visit a government website set up to help consumers report fraud and prevent it from happening in the first place.

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