Scamming the health-care system hurts all Canadians

Health-care fraud continues to be a problem throughout Canada, says Joel Alleyne, executive director of the Canadian Health Care Anti-fraud Association (CHCAA).

“We see health-care providers dipping into the funds that are meant to protect Canadians and provide them with excellent health care and putting it into their own pockets, and we see Canadians treating health insurance dollars – public and private – as if these are unlimited funds that they can tap into fraudulently,” he says.

Health-care fraud is not new, adds Mr. Alleyne; it’s been a problem for many years. But what is new is that the fraudsters are increasingly embracing technology in their activities.

“The good news is that the health-care system – both the public system through the ministries of health and private health insurers – has stepped up its game and year over year is finding new ways and tools to protect against health-care fraud,” he says. “We are winning the battle.

It’s also important to note, adds Mr. Alleyne that an increasing number of Canadians are now aware of health-care fraud and are reporting it to the various health authorities and private health insurance companies.

He says the CHCAA is making the public aware of health-care fraud through a range of channels and tools including campaigns like Fraud Prevention Month, presentations to groups including seniors and other vulnerable populations and to anyone who will help spread the word and alert consumers to potential health fraud scams.

“Education is for all stakeholders – employees, employers, trade unions, insurers and law enforcement agencies,” he adds. “We work closely with other organizations trying to get the counter fraud message to consumers and have established public and private partnerships to combat health-care fraud in Canada.”

Survey shows Canadian are concerned about fraud
A national fraud survey conducted in February for Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada found that 32 per cent of respondents said they had been a victim of financial fraud at some point in their lives, with 67 per cent having experienced credit card fraud.
A strong majority – 70 per cent – of people surveyed said they were very concerned about identity theft, and 47 per cent said they feared that someone has personal information about them that they should not have.

The survey also found that there was an increase from 6 per cent in 2014 to 16 per cent this year in the number of people reporting that they had been a victim of online fraud. Almost half of those surveyed who access the Internet said they were uncomfortable making online purchases.
Cairine Wilson, vice-president, corporate citizenship, CPA Canada, says in an electronic era, accessing information and doing business online is easy, but Canadians need to recognize that with the convenience there is also risk.

“Being armed with enough knowledge to identify the potential risk is what’s going to help you navigate the rapid advances in online fraud,” she adds. “We encourage Canadians of all ages to gain awareness of fraud prevention measures and take action. Fraud prevention saves time and money.”

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