When Bob Currao opens his AARP/Medicare statement every month, he usually knows what to expect. The 82-year-old Sharon resident rarely needs medical attention outside of his routine checkups.
So when he received an invoice for blood work, urine samples and inpatient care from an unfamiliar doctor’s office, Currao couldn’t help but assume the worst.
"I just thought, 'Oh no,'" said Currao, who lives in Sharon.
He has grown vigilant in the digital age, a lesson he says he learned when hackers stole his email five years ago.
"They went ahead and wiped out all my addresses and my emails," said Currao. "Everything that existed."
The AARP/Medicare invoice reflected three visits between Feburary and March 2015 to a Dr. Michael Frank in New York City.
When the Troubleshooters reached out to Frank’s office, representatives said they haven’t heard of Currao, either. They tied all three of those visits to one of their own patients, one who also has AARP/Medicare insurance through the same insurance company: UnitedHealthcare.
Currao initially reported fraud to UnitedHealthcare. However, when the Troubleshooters reached out to the insurer, they found it was not fraud.
In a statement, they told us the following:
"Protecting the integrity of the health care system is a shared responsibility, and we take our role in that effort seriously. We appreciate Mr. Corrao’s vigilance in reviewing his health care statements and proactively notifying us when he noticed services described in his statements that he didn’t receive. After a thorough investigation and with the cooperation of the doctor who provided the services in question, we have determined that this incident resulted from an error on the part of the doctor’s staff. We thank them for their cooperation in our investigation."
In short, it was a typo. Frank’s office said it mistakenly entered the wrong Medicare ID number. The intended Medicare ID number is one digit off from Currao’s.
"When you have worked in the insurance industry for a long time, you know that sometimes errors do occur," said Kathy Walsh from the Connecticut Department of Insurance. "It is important for folks to be very vigilant about the explanation of benefits that they receive to be sure they’re accurate. So I applaud that man to take the time to notice that."
Failure to do so could leave you with a financial burden down the road. Especially, Walsh adds, if your insurance deductible doesn’t cover the whole bill, or if you have high copayments.
"For those folks, it’s really important to double check those statements," said Walsh.
However, act quickly if you do find anything suspicious. Reach out to your insurance company, the doctor in question and the Department of Insurance. They’ll work with both parties to make sure they get to the bottom of your issue.