Wow, Medicare, it seems, has really become a poster child for bad business practices. And that’s such a shame.

To pull a fast one on Medicare is really scraping the bottom of the barrel, don’t you think?

What got me thinking of the subject of Medicare scams? Well, if you’re like me, you might have received a flurry of letters from insurance commissioners warning consumers of such scams. Unfortunately, more often than not those most at risk of scams never get the warning. Hopefully, as an ethical advisor, you’re letting your clients know what’s out there.

Just taking at look at some of the recent statistics on these scams, the numbers are staggering. Since the Medicare Fraud Strike Force began operations in March 2007, more than 560 people have been indicted of submitting false claims to the Medicare program totaling $1.2 billion.

Most recently, there has been news on the airwaves and in print regarding a doctor in the Detroit area who has been sentenced to 72 months in prison for his part in a Medicare scam. A so-called patient recruiter, who was also implicated in the scheme, received 40 months, according to the Department of Justice.

Judge Gerald E. Rosen ordered Dr. Toe Myint, of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., to repay the more than $3.1 million he stole from Medicare. Myint will also serve two years of supervised release following his prison term. Rosen ordered recruiter Terrence Hicks, a Jackson, Mich., resident, to pay more than $4.9 million and serve three years of supervised release following his term.

In another case, an Arleta, Calif.-based medical equipment supplier has pleaded guilty to Medicare fraud totaling approximately a half a million dollars. Sylvester Ijewere, owner of Maydads Medical Supply, admitted to a scheme in which he purchased fraudulent medical prescriptions for expensive power wheelchairs and other equipment, according to Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office.
In the case, Ijewere admitted that from June 2007 to October 2009, he obtained prescriptions and other patient information from fraudulent medical clinics and patient “recruiters” and then billed Medicare for the equipment.

So, what can be done about these bad apples? If there were an island for misfit advisors and other, various Medicare scam artists, that would be a good start.

For now, keep doing the right thing and hopefully, these bad apples will be pulled, one by one, out of the supply chain.