March 2011 Archives

March 28, 2011

Air Bag Safety

Air Bags are not soft like pillows. In order for them to work and save lives, they come out of the dashboard at about 200 miles per hour, faster than the blink of an eye. The force of the air bag can hurt people who sit too close to it.

Child Safety:
- Children 12 and under should not ride in the front seat. They should ride buckled up in the rear seats.
- Infants in rear facing child seats should never ride in the front seat of a vehicle.
- All children under the age of 12 should ride in the rear seat and in approved child safety seats, according to their age and size.
Adult Safety:
- Every adult should buckle up with a lap and shoulder safety belt.
- The lap belt should be worn under the abdomen and low across the hips. The shoulder belt should come across the collar bone, away from the neck, and come across the breast bone.
- Both driver and front seat passenger seats should be moved as far back as practical, specially, for shorted people. Keep as much distance as possible between you and the airbag.

Public/Private Partnerships of automobile manufacturers, insurance companies, child safety seat agencies, health professionals, and child health and safety organizations together make up the Air Bag Safety Campaign, whose focus is on driver, passenger and child safety. They came up with a simple to teach and simple to remember air bag message they call the ABC's:
Air bag Safety -
Buckle Everyone!
Children in Back

In Summary, children under the age of 12 are safest when properly restrained in the back seat of vehicles. When a child under the age of 12 is properly restrained in the back seat they are up to 29 percent safer than those children that sit in the front seat.

For more information, please contact the Air Bag Safety Campaign at (202)625-2570 or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Auto Safety Hotline at (800)424-9393 or www.nhtsa.dot.gov

March 14, 2011

What is the Real Cost of Health Care Fraud?

Medical Doctor - Fraud.jpg

The National Health Care Anti-Fraud Association (NHCAA) defines health care fraud as an intentional deception or misrepresentation that the individual or entity makes knowing that the misrepresentation could result in some unauthorized benefit to the individual, or the entity or to some other party.

In the United States, it is estimated that almost $226 billion a year are spent on health care fraud. That is 10% of the nation's health care expenditure. Therefore; consumers have higher premiums and out-of-pocket expenses, also reduced benefits and coverage. As for employers, they have increases in the cost of providing insurance benefits to their employees, as well as increasing the overall cost of doing business.

The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud claims that two out of five Americans want little or no punishment for insurance cheats. Consumers blame the insurance industry for its fraud problems because they believe insurers are unfair.
Fraud.jpg
The Journal of the American Medical Association, claims that almost one-third of doctors exaggerate the severity of a patient's illness to help the patient avoid early discharges from a hospital.

Categories of Fraud:
- Hard Fraud - this occurs when someone purposely plans or invents a loss. For example: staged automobile accidents. The "victim" obtains an attorney, who in turn refers the victim to a physician. The physician then submits charges to the insurance carrier and refers the victim for additional physical therapy. The physical therapy physician then also submits charges to the insurance carrier.
- Soft Fraud - this occurs when policy holders exaggerate a legitimate claim. For example: receiving treatment for a slip and fall accident on 2/1 and submitting that claim to insurance carrier and then changing that same service charge to 2/4 and resubmitting the claim.

The most common fraudulent acts are:
- The billing of late charges by a hospital
- False durable medical equipment claims (DME)
- Behavioral health fraud
- Medical identity theft
- Billing for services, procedures and/or supplies that were never provided or performed
- The condition treated or the diagnosis made
- The charges for services, procedures and/or supplies provided or performed
- The deliberate performance of medically unnecessary services for the purpose of financial gain

The cost of insurance fraud is factored in to the premiums we all pay. In order to lower these premiums, the laws against health care fraud must be tougher. Penalties must be instituted by both federal and state governments. As of the year 2010, only 40 state fraud bureaus exist. In order for health care fraud to be less common and less costly for each citizen in general, each state should have a fraud bureau. It is easier to prevent fraud than to recover payments once they have been made.

We, as consumers, can also do our part to lower health care fraud. We must never sign a blank insurance form. We must comprehend all claim forms we complete. We must request detail bills, or HICFA/UB 92 billing statements and we must always keep our insurance information confidential.

If you need to report health care fraud, please call your insurance company immediately. Also, contact your state insurance fraud bureau and file a complaint with the State Medical board.

March 7, 2011

Fatal Crashes in DC and MD Down, But Up in VA

A report published in February 2010 shows, that in the last five years, fatal crashes at intersections with traffic lights have declined in Maryland and the District of Columbia, but have risen in Virginia. Experts have made the assumption that the drop in fatal crashes in MD and DC are due to the use of red-light cameras.

In Northern Virginia, only Arlington County and Falls Church, currently use red-light cameras. Between 2005 and 2009, fatal crashes in Virginia have increased. In 2005 only 39 fatal crashes occurred, but in 2009, there were 51 fatal crashes. Therefore, other counties in Virginia are seeking state approval to install more red-light cameras.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), between 2004 and 2008, 159 lives were saved in 14 cities nationwide by the use of red-light cameras. When red-light cameras are used for safety reasons and not just to generate revenue they have shown to save lives. People have a better understanding now of how important it is to not run a red light. The use of red-light cameras makes people drive safer and avoid running red-lights, and therefore, save lives. It is the heavy use of these cameras in Maryland and the District of Columbia that have caused the decline in fatal crashes. It is imperative that other cities and counties in Virginia do the same.

March 3, 2011

Product Liability Lawsuits Over Automobile Seat Belts Can Continue

Seat Belt Buckle.jpgOn February 23, 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that plaintiffs can pursue product liability lawsuits against automakers that used lap-only seatbelts, even though federal regulations deemed them to meet the minimum standards of safety.

The new ruling will allow for wrongful death lawsuits to be brought against all car manufactures. The ruling also opens the doors to discussions over other products that only meet the minimum federal safety standards in the United States.

The new ruling will also push the automobile industry away from meeting the minimum of safety standards and move them more towards using the best available safety technology.

The U.S. Supreme Court decision was unanimous and was written by Justice Stephen Breyer.