The use of elemedicine has exploded this year. But so have telemedicine scams. To keep your wallet in good health, you need to take precautions.
This article is going to cover some telltale signs of telemedicine scams and how you can protect yourself.
Virtual doctor’s visits have risen as many people opt to stay out of doctor’s offices due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And since more doctors — and more patients — are getting used to it, telemedicine in the United States is expected to grow seven-fold by 2025.
The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud has recently issued some warnings on how to spot a telemedicine scam. But first…
What Is a Telemedicine Scam?
A telemedicine scam can take many forms, but it usually involves using remote payment or video call technology to defraud the patient, doctor, insurance company or pharmaceutical firm.
Here’s the damage that InsuranceFraud.org, the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud’s website, says can result from just one bad actor in the telemedicine field.
“A corrupt telemedicine company can hire hundreds of dishonest doctors to scale the fraud into eight- or nine-figure losses.”
Telemedicine Scams: What Are Some Warning Signs?
Some warning signs identified by the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud include:
1. Contact From Doctor ‘Strange’
If you’re not careful, scammers can lure you for “free” exams. These “doctors” just want to get your personal information to help them commit fraud against federal insurance programs, or they might want to steal your identity!
How to Protect Yourself: If you get a phone call from someone you don’t know who’s claiming to be a doctor or other medical professional, that’s a big red flag. Before you give them any information, always look up the doctor’s name to see if you can read some reviews about them from HealthGrades, Vitals.com or a similar site. Some states also have websites that list the licensing information of all the physicians who practice there.
But some of these fraudsters actually are doctors, working with dishonest telemedicine companies. So if you have any questions about someone calling you, claiming to be a medical professional and asking for your personal information, don’t give them any personal information until you’ve checked them out.
2. Insurance Coverage Promises
Be on the lookout for telemedicine outfits that promise you that everything will be covered by your health insurance. Here’s what MedicalGuardian.com says: “Telemedicine technology and services can be run by third parties that are not necessarily directly affiliated with a health insurance company.”
How to Protect Yourself: Always check with your insurance provider before moving forward to make sure the services are covered under your policy.
3. Suspicious Charges
Even without telemedicine, medical costs can sometimes be mysterious. With telemedicine, you also need to watch for bogus fees and charges.
How to Protect Yourself: Ask the doctor what you’ll be billed for before the appointment starts. And make sure you scrutinize your bill as soon as it arrives for anything that looks out of the ordinary.
Pay special attention to the time span of your appointment. If you paid for a 15-minute session, make sure you’re not billed for 30 minutes or an hour.
See InsuranceFraud.org for more tips on how to avoid falling victim to telemedicine scammers.
If you feel that you’ve been a victim of a telemedicine scam, don’t hesitate to report it. Contact any or all of these entities:
Want to know more about virtual doctor’s visits? Here are five things to know about telemedicine.