More Hospital Costs Should Be Paid by Other Insurers Gao ID: HRD-87-43 January 29, 1987

In response to a congressional request, GAO provided information on whether the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) could improve existing policies and procedures for identifying and billing insurers covering Medicare beneficiaries, which should pay medical claims before Medicare does.

GAO found that: (1) in 1985, Medicare paid $527 million in hospital costs that other insurers should have covered; (2) hospitals often gathered insufficient information about other insurance resources or billed Medicare even when they identified other insurance; (3) the six hospitals that GAO studied identified and billed primary insurance in only 17 percent of the cases where patients indicated that they had primary insurance coverage for the admission; (4) intermediaries had little incentive to increase training, monitoring, and auditing of hospitals to improve their performance in identifying and billing other insurers; (5) some employers were enrolling Medicare beneficiaries inappropriately in group insurance that treated Medicare as the primary payer; and (6) there is no federal requirement for attorneys or insurers to report actions taken to recover accidental damages for Medicare beneficiaries.


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