As we age, the prospect of losing our independence is an ever-present concern. In order to provide appropriate care for those suffering a loss of independence, many choose to place their loved ones in assisted living facilities or nursing homes. However, being placed in a residential facility is a traumatic experience for many seniors, which makes home healthcare a very attractive alternative.
Home healthcare offers a number of benefits over traditional residential facilities, such as the ability to remain in a familiar house, to retain one’s material possessions, and to exercise a degree of control over one’s environment that would not be possible in a nursing home. Unfortunately, as home healthcare becomes more popular, home healthcare fraud is on the rise. If you have concerns related to your use of home healthcare, contact a California elder abuse attorney as soon as possible.
Types of Home Healthcare Fraud
Home healthcare is one of the fastest growing industries in the United States, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimating that the demands for home health aides will increase by 48% by 2022. Because this industry is relatively new, it is not as heavily regulated as the residential facilities industry, making incidences of fraud much more common. Some typical examples of home healthcare fraud include:
- Billing and claims fraud: This type of fraud involves billing for inflated care or for care that the patient never received.
- Physical, sexual, and psychological abuse: Unlike in traditional residential facilities, there is very little direct oversight of home health aides other than the patient and any visitors to the home, making it more likely that abuse will go undetected.
- Financial elder abuse: In-home caregivers have ready access to a senior’s credit cards, checks, ATM and debit cards and confidential bank account information. Caregivers may learn a senior’s PIN and Social Security number to gain access to accounts. Caregivers may also talk an isolated senior into gifts and purchases for the caregiver.
- Background check fraud: This type of fraud involves falsifying or not conducting criminal background checks for home health aides. Background check fraud is common in the home healthcare industry due to the patchwork of state laws governing background checks for home health aides.
- Kickbacks and false recruitment: In some cases, unscrupulous home healthcare providers will provide kickbacks to individuals who supply them with Medicare beneficiary numbers so that they can then bill Medicare for unnecessary or unprovided services.
What is Being Done to Combat Home Healthcare Fraud?
The United States loses billions of dollars every year from healthcare fraud, which contributes directly to the rising cost of healthcare. To combat this loss, many states have enacted harsher laws and stricter consequences for perpetrators of healthcare fraud, including large fines and even prison terms. The federal government has also taken action by establishing the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team and the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, both of which are jointly administered by the FBI, Department of Justice, and Department of Health and Human Services. As the home healthcare industry continues to expand, it is likely that it will come under increased regulation and oversight by government authorities.
Contact a California Elder Abuse Attorney Today
Home healthcare is an attractive option for seniors wishing to “age in place,” but it is not without its risks. If you believe that a loved one has been the victim of home healthcare fraud, contact a California elder abuse attorney at the Evans Law Firm by calling (415) 441-8669 or by email. We can help guide your case through a jury trial or toward an equitable settlement. We handle cases involving physical and financial elder abuse, qui tam and whistleblower law, nursing home abuse, whole life insurance and universal life insurance, and indexed, variable, and fixed annuities.