Health insurers suspect widespread Covid test fraud

PCR tests are still free in Switzerland for those presenting with Covid symptoms. Keystone / Michael Buholzer

Swiss healthcare insurers estimate that some CHF20 million ($20.02 million) could have been gleaned to date by scams involving fake bills for Covid tests.

This content was published on November 2, 2022 - 09:46

Swiss public television RTS reportedExternal link Wednesday on numerous cases of people who noticed that their health insurance invoices included Covid tests that they had never done.

“We estimate that 1% of all Covid tests have not been correctly invoiced, that fraud has presumably taken place, and that certain tests were counted twice or three times, or didn’t take place at all,” Matthias Müller of Santésuisse – the umbrella group for Swiss health insurers – told SRF public television earlier this month.

The role of different actors in the fraud is not yet clear, RTS public television said on Wednesday. But one practice assumed to have been used is “factoring”, whereby a fraudster works in tandem with a testing centre and a certified doctor to send batches of fake bills to insurance providers, who then reimburse them.

The cost of Covid tests in Switzerland, while a bone of contention at some points during the pandemic, was largely taken over by public authorities, except in certain cases like asymptomatic people or those doing a test to travel abroad.

Investigating further

Various health insurers have been encouraging clients to flag any suspicious invoices. “These costs are a burden on the federal authorities and thus on taxpayers,” said the SWICA health insurer.

Officials at the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) are currently investigating the affair, and will decide soon whether or not to launch legal proceedings, RTS writes.

Since the start of the pandemic in 2020, over 23 million tests – PCR and antigen – have been carried out in Switzerland, according to FOPH data.

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