Police: Women Trade Identities For Emergency Health Care
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
By Denise Yost
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A local woman lent her name and Medicaid card to an uninsured friend for hospital treatment, but it didn't take too much detective work to determine that something wasn't right.
Sabrina Wilson wanted to help a friend with an injured ankle, and according to police, she accompanied that friend to Mount Carmel Hospital's emergency room over the weekend, NBC 4's Patrick Preston reported.
Inside, she reportedly lent her identity and Medicaid insurance card to her friend.
Hospital records indicated that Wilson is black. The friend claiming to be Wilson was white.
According to police, the two women admitted what they had done, but only after the injured friend received treatment, Preston reported.
"People are desperate to get health care and they can't pay for it," said Cathy Levine, of Universal Health care Action Network of Ohio.
Levine said she sees the incident as being indicative of a broader problem, which she summed up by saying that people shouldn't have to commit crimes to get healthcare coverage.
"Ohio has to figure out how we're going to provide health care for the 1.3 million Ohioans who do not have access to affordable health care," Levine said.
Patients aren't the only ones feeling the effects. Hospitals are losing money on insurance fraud and can't deny care to those in need.
The problem doesn't end with the hospitals. Physicians said that switching insurance identities is dangerous because a patient could end up being treated based on their friend's health problems.
"We could pick a wrong medicine," said Dr. Ed Boudreau. "We could pick a wrong treatment regimen."
Police said they have not filed charges in the case.
Ohio hospitals offer free care programs for anyone who is living at or below the poverty level.
The majority of hospitals offer free care or charity care for uninsured or underinsured emergency patients.
If it's not an emergency situation, patients can contact a hospital ahead of time to check.