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Patient Inducements: Law and Limits

From Holland & Hart, by Kim Stanger:

Although often well-intentioned, offering free or discounted items or services to patients (e.g., gifts, rewards, writing off copays, free screening exams, free supplies, etc.) may violate federal and state laws governing improper inducements, especially if the patient is a federal program beneficiary. The government is concerned that offering or rewarding such inducements to patients may result in overutilization, biased decisions concerning care, and increased costs to the Medicare, Medicaid, or other government programs. Penalties for illegal inducements may include administrative, civil, and criminal penalties; repayment to government programs; and exclusion from federal programs. Increasingly, private payors are also challenging such inducements. It is imperative that healthcare providers and their staff understand the applicable laws and limits.