Waive the Copay and Wave Hello to Potential Legal Penalties
Learning Objectives and CME/Disclosure Information
This activity is intended for healthcare providers delivering care to women and their families.
After completing this activity, the participant should be better able to:
1. Explain how waiving a copay may make you vulnerable under anti-kickback laws 2. Describe how ERISA laws can be used against providers who waive insurance payments that are a patient’s responsibility
Estimated time to complete activity: 0.25 hours
Susan J. Gross, MD, FRCSC, FACOG, FACMG
President and CEO, The ObG Project
Disclosure of Conflicts of Interest
Postgraduate Institute for Medicine (PIM) requires faculty, planners, and others in control of educational content to disclose all their financial relationships with ineligible companies. All identified conflicts of interest (COI) are thoroughly vetted and mitigated according to PIM policy. PIM is committed to providing its learners with high quality accredited continuing education activities and related materials that promote improvements or quality in healthcare and not a specific proprietary business interest of an ineligible company.
The PIM planners and others have nothing to disclose. The OBG Project planners and others have nothing to disclose.
Faculty: Susan J. Gross, MD, receives consulting fees from Cradle Genomics, and has financial interest in The ObG Project, Inc.
Planners and Managers: The PIM planners and managers, Trace Hutchison, PharmD, Samantha Mattiucci, PharmD, CHCP, Judi Smelker-Mitchek, MBA, MSN, RN, and Jan Schultz, MSN, RN, CHCP have nothing to disclose.
Method of Participation and Request for Credit
Fees for participating and receiving CME credit for this activity are as posted on The ObG Project website. During the period from Dec 31 2017 through Jan 25 2023, participants must read the learning objectives and faculty disclosures and study the educational activity.
If you wish to receive acknowledgment for completing this activity, please complete the post-test and evaluation. Upon registering and successfully completing the post-test with a score of 100% and the activity evaluation, your certificate will be made available immediately.
For Pharmacists: Upon successfully completing the post-test with a score of 100% and the activity evaluation form, transcript information will be sent to the NABP CPE Monitor Service within 4 weeks.
Joint Accreditation Statement
In support of improving patient care, this activity has been planned and implemented by the Postgraduate Institute for Medicine and The ObG Project. Postgraduate Institute for Medicine is jointly accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), to provide continuing education for the healthcare team.
Physician Continuing Medical Education
Postgraduate Institute for Medicine designates this enduring material for a maximum of 0.25 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.
Continuing Nursing Education
The maximum number of hours awarded for this Continuing Nursing Education activity is 0.2 contact hours.
To help out their patients burdened by healthcare costs, providers may on occasion consider not collecting copayments and deductibles. The patient may claim financial distress. Or the amount may not seem worth pursuing, although $20 or more per patient quickly adds up over the course of a year. Routinely waiving copays, however, makes you vulnerable to charges under the federal False Claims Act, as well as the federal antikickback law and similar state laws. And you risk fines of up to $25,000 and possible exclusion from federal insurance programs for violating the federal antikickback law alone.
Except in limited circumstances, Medicare and Medicaid don’t allow such waivers and demand that providers collect those amounts from patients. Routinely waiving them can be interpreted as program abuse. Why? Because a claim to government programs for patients in which a copayment or deductible was waived is misrepresenting the true charge for service. And there’s more. Rather than being perceived as the kindhearted person that you are, not collecting these payments can make it appear as if you are trying to attract patients by offering something of value, and consequently generating Medicaid or Medicare payments – a violation of the antikickback law.
If the patient has private insurance, you could be giving the patient’s insurer an opening to escape paying its share of your bill. For example, assume there is a $100 total charge where the patient has an 80/20 plan. If the provider waives the patient’s obligation to pay 20%, then, again arguably, the commercial plan owes only 80% of $80.
Be especially wary of copays. The rules of managed care are federally mandated and clearly state that the patient cannot see the doctor until they make their copayment. Many providers will recognize this clause in their contracts with insurance companies. Health insurance (including commerical) is also governed by a set of federal laws that fall under ERISA (The Employee Retirement Income Security Act). Commercial insurers can claim that the doctor interfered with their contracts with employers/individuals and some insurance companies have been aggressively fighting back on this front, including using the courts. Therefore, the safest course is simply to avoid granting copay waivers. If a patient has a true well-defined financial hardship, document the situation and in isolated, worthy cases, there is the option of reducing a deductible.
Ultimately, regardless of how onerous or convoluted insurance plans are, the responsibility for these payments rests with the patient as conceptually, they have entered into a ‘cost sharing’ arrangement with the company or organization that is providing their healthcare coverage.
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Disclosure of Unlabeled Use
This educational activity may contain discussion of published and/or investigational uses of agents that are not indicated by the FDA. The planners of this activity do not recommend the use of any agent outside of the labeled indications.
The opinions expressed in the educational activity are those of the faculty and do not necessarily represent the views of the planners. Please refer to the official prescribing information for each product for discussion of approved indications, contraindications, and warnings.
Participants have an implied responsibility to use the newly acquired information to enhance patient outcomes and their own professional development. The information
presented in this activity is not meant to serve as a guideline for patient management. Any procedures, medications, or other courses of diagnosis or treatment discussed or suggested in this activity should not be used by clinicians without evaluation of their patient’s conditions and possible contraindications and/or dangers in use, review of any applicable manufacturer’s product information, and comparison with recommendations of other authorities.
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