Giftcards just for showing up to see a doctor. If your a senior that's no longer far-fetched.
The Department of Health and Human Services, for the first time, has permitted one Medicare provider to hand out $20 grocery gift cards for older patients, that come in for medical screenings.
Health Care expert Joe Antos says it's a horrible idea. A precedent that incentivizes medical tests, paid for by taxpayers.
"Let's face it, health care is a very competitive market. If you can find some way to get a little bit of an edge, to get more people to sign up for your plan, you are going to do better." Said Joe Antos, from the American Enterprise Institute.
Up until this year, Health and Human Services has rejected similar promotions. There were concerns it would violate federal anti-kickback laws.
In just the last year, a court found Walgreens Pharmacy violated the statute enticing medicare and medicaid patients with gifts. Walgreen's was fined nearly $8 million.
According to our investigative news partner at the Washington Guardian, the government declined to release the name of the provider or which state it operates from.
The facility was approved because it agreed not to advertise the free giveaway.
There are few concerns about fraud because beneficiaries of medicare are often assigned by location. The feeling is few will drive long distances for $20 in groceries.
"Those bargains may not truly be bargains. Look into what the possible complications are of some of these screenings. Often times they are not simply a matter of drawing a little bit of blood out of your arm." Antos said.
While taxpayers won't pay for the gift cards, they will certainly pay the cost of more people who seek care.