Insurance companies steal $50 billion from Medicare for diseases that were never treated.

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Gloria Lee was perplexed when the phone calls started coming in from a representative of her Medicare insurer. Could a nurse stop by her Boston home to give her a quick checkup? It was a helpful perk. No cost. In fact, she’d get a $50 gift card.
After several such calls in 2022, Lee agreed. A nurse showed up, checked her over, asked her questions, then diagnosed her with diabetic cataracts.
The finding was good news for Lee’s insurer, a unit of UnitedHealth Group UNH -0.38%decrease; red down pointing triangle. Medicare pays insurers more for sicker patients. In the case of someone like Lee with diabetic cataracts, up to about $2,700 more a year at that time.
But the retired accountant doesn’t have diabetes, her own doctor later said, let alone the cloudy vision sometimes caused by the disease.
Private insurers involved in the government’s Medicare Advantage program made hundreds of thousands of questionable diagnoses that triggered extra taxpayer-funded payments from 2018 to 2021, including outright wrong ones like Lee’s, a Wall Street Journal analysis of billions of Medicare records found.
The questionable diagnoses included some for potentially deadly illnesses, such as AIDS, for which patients received no subsequent care, and for conditions people couldn’t possibly have, the analysis showed. Often, neither the patients nor their doctors had any idea.

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