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28 Jul 13 Labcorp Scamming Federal Government

LabCorp ScamAndrew Baker, the former CEO of Unilab and current CEO of Huntington Life Sciences, has written an article for The Huffington Post in which he asks the federal government to stop LabCorp and another lab company from continuing to scam the Medicare and Medicaid programs of billions of dollars.

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Mr. Baker had previously filed a whistleblower lawsuit against LabCorp in 2007 alleging that LabCorp violated the federal False Claims Act and Anti-Kickback Statutes.  Those case is still in court.

In the article he estimates that LabCorp and the other lab have cost taxpayers $15 billion since 1996 in the form of false claims stemming from illegal kickbacks to Aetna, Cigna, United Healthcare and Blue Cross.

The claims are that Labcorp is breaking federal laws by deeply discounting lab fees to private insurance companies, sometimes charging them for laboratory tests even below their costs. In exchange, the insurance companies pressure doctors in their networks to send all of their patients’ lab work, including Medicare and Medicaid patients, to LabCorp.

He claims that Labcorp funds the kickbacks, in the form of lower lab fees for private insurance companies, by charging Medicare and Medicaid patients the highest possible fee instead of offering them the lowest charged price, and by pressuring doctors to send all of their lab work exclusively to Labcorp. Other categories in Medicaid and Medicare require that the government be charged the lowest charged fees by a provider.

Mr. Baker also mentions LabCorp’s $50 million settlement with the state of California for overcharging California’s Medicaid program and for providing kickbacks to physicians for referrals.

As a result of his article, pressure is increasing for government intervention in laboratory pricing for government programs.  He advocates for clarification of the intent of current federal law that would require laboratories to charge Medicare and Medicaid their “best price”, just as California has already done.  This would require that Laboratory Corporation of America can only charge Medicare and Medicaid the lowest price they charge private insurance companies or HMOs. Which in turn means a massive hit to Labcorp’s bottom line. It would also open up the market to smaller labs which don’t have the multi-tier, lower than cost pricing intended to put them out of business. Such a hit to Labcorp’s financials would tumble their stock (NYSE: LH).

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14 May 10 Alternatives to LabCorp

Alternatives to LabCorpI recently received an email from Jasmine, a patient who is unhappy with both LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics. I found her complaints interesting so here’s the content and my reply:

Aside from Quest Diagnostics, do you know of any national labs that I can use instead of lab corp? They’re horrible.
Thanks. Jasmine

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There are many regional labs but after extensive research I discovered that due to the regulations imposed on labs under the CLIA federal law, and the proliferation of managed care, there are very few labs that can be considered “national” labs. The consolidation of the industry has lead to even more business for these two lab giants. Not surprisingly, when local laboratories expand past the regional phase, either LabCorp or Quest Diagnostics buys them.

 Depending on where you live, there are local and regional labs that offer great services and are likely to be accepted by your insurance. They usually do not have as many service centers as the two large ones and are more likely to work directly with your doctor’s office. An example is Bio-Reference Labs in New Jersey and New York, Florida Reference Labs in South Florida and other such smaller lab companies. There are also others where you can mail in your specimen and have direct access to results. One of the leaders is Direct Laboratory Services (DirectLabs). The problem with them is that while you are dealing with DirectLabs through the web but you are also dealing with LabCorp, as they will send you to LabCorp to give blood for the test. This is basically a wholesaler that has LabCorp doing all the work for them and they provide the results for you. They only accept credit card payments and do not accept insurance. While their prices are lower than going directly through LabCorp, you will experience all the frustrations of dealing with Laboratory Corporation of America locations.

LabOne was considered a formidable contender but got acquired by Quest Diagnostics. Almost on a weekly basis, you will notice national labs acquiring smaller regional ones. Another option is using a hospital based lab. The problem with hospital based alternatives is that they may charge more for the services. If you’ve had enough with the big national laboratories, check with your insurance company to see the regional labs that are part of their approved networks.

It reminds me of the old AVIS rent a car ads whose slogan was “We try harder.”

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08 Mar 10 LabCorp Under Investigating by the U.S. Department of Labor

Department Of Labor Compalint Against LabCorpThe United States Department of Labor is investigating Labcorp for not being in compliance with their affirmative action plan and for discriminating against certain sectors of the population. In a recent letter received by LabCorp Sucks from a former employee, the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment Standards Administration’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs requested that their Jacksonville, Florida office consider the allegations made by the former employee when conducting future compliance evaluations of Laboratory Corporation of America.

If Laboratory Corporation of America (LabCorp) is found to not be in compliance and fails to correct the problems, they can be sanctioned and could even be restricted from participating in the Medicaid and Medicare program, two major income sources for the Laboratory company. LabCorp can also be prohibited from participating in other government programs, including the CHAMPUS program (The Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Uniformed Services) that provides laboratory services to government employees, and to Veterans Administration program beneficiaries. LabCorp currently contracts with all these government programs to provide reference laboratory services to program participants. Since many HMOs that serve the beneficiaries of these federal programs also contract with LabCorp, the HMOs would also be restricted from using LabCorp. The loss in business could be in the hundreds of millions and could be catastrophic to LabCorp stock (NYSE: LH).

LabCorp’s discrimination problems have been well known to company insiders. The company has various lawsuits pending and has had to settle others by paying out millions. In a recent Florida case, LabCorp even had to fire the law firm representing them after accusations of obstruction of justice by the firm.

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04 Jan 10 LabCorp Test Mistakes HTLV Virus

LabCorp MistakesI received this email from Joan in New York who was misdiagnosed as having the HTLV virus by LabCorp. LabCorp mistakes, like this one, cause thousands of dollars in additional tests and devastate the lives of those misdiagnosed. Sadly, LabCorp may have mixed her blood samples with someone elses or could have had a bad reading because of tired, overworked Laboratory technicians. We’ll never know why Laboratory Corporation of America made this mistake, but I can guarantee you that it’s not the first nor will it be the last.

Here’s what Joan had to say:

Labcorp original blood work returned a positive result for HTLV, Human T-Cell Leukemia Virus.  If you can imagine, I was devastated.  The last two weeks have been awful. This virus is much like HIV;  it’s sexually transmitted, and transmitted through needle sharing and blood transfusions. My doctor also communicated there was no cure. 

I could not imagine where I would have contracted such a disease, but I have been feeling weak and tired, and assumed it was true.   My family and I have been devastated.

My doctor does not trust Labcorp, but since Labcorp is the only approved lab with United Health Care, (shame on United Health Care) he ordered a second test.  In the meantime, he has sent me to numerous other MRI appointments and the like looking for tumors, all at the cost of my insurance company.  Last night, I got the results and the second test was negative for HTLV.  I am grateful that I don’t have HTLV, [if I can trust their second test]; but I wonder if there is someone else out there who does… and does not know. I question Labcorp’s  laboratory process and wonder if they got the blood mixed up otc viagra substitutes. Is it possible that there is a person out there who is positive for HTLV and is unknowingly spreading this death sentence virus to others?  Labcorp is incompetent.

I agree with you… Labcorp sucks!

Joan

New York, NY

HTLV Virus ProgressionHere’s information about this dreadful disease and how devastating it is. Human T-lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-I) causes adult T-cell leukemia in about 2.5% of those persons infected with the virus. The time between acquiring the infection with HTLV-1 and developing disease is thought to be 30-50 years. HTLV-1 also can cause a neurological disease called HTLV-1-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis in about 5% of those infected. This is an illness that affects the spinal cord and white matter of the central nervous system. Manifestations include difficulty walking and weakness and stiffness of the lower extremities more than the upper extremities. Bowel and bladder control may be lost. A number of other disorders have been associated with HTLV-1 including inflammation of the joints or eyes. HTLV-I is endemic in Japan, the Caribbean, New Guinea and parts of Central Africa. Prevalence is highest in southwest Japan. It is not common in the United States.

Human T-lymphotropic virus type 2 (HTLV-II) may cause neurodegenerative disease such as myelopathy, and it may be associated with hematological malignancies but the association between the virus and these diseases is weak. The virus is endemic in Native Americans in South, Central, and North America.

Enzyme immunoassay screening of serum, with confirmation by type specific western blot, immunofluorescent assay or polymerase chain reaction can be used to determine carrier status and help in confirmation of either HTLV-I or HTLV-II disease. Specific pathological conditions must be present for disease diagnosis.

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12 Jul 09 At Laboratory Corporation of America Some Things Never Change

About a year ago this web site was launched as a result of incidents in LabCorp’s Miami, Florida facilities. Before it was launched I had a conversation with Laboratory Corporation of America’s Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President Don Hardison. He seemed genuine and acknowledged that Laboratory Corporation of America had many operational problems. He stated that he was fairly new to the company but intended to fix all of them. I believed him.

After a year it looks like Don Hardison has not fixed LabCorp’s problems. I recently contacted the Miami division’s office and was informed that the regional director is still Bob Blanco, and that the Patient Service Center director is still Ana Garcia. I would have thought that after all the damage that these two have caused Laboratory Corporation of America, they would have been terminated. How can you fix a problem when the people creating the problems are at the helm? These two managers outright lied to me, and used the old “lie about them before they tell the truth about you” technique to get away with their incompetence.

Don Hardison COO of LabCorpThe fact that Don Hardison did not fire these two incompetent employees after my complaints makes me believe that he is not as genuine as he first made me believe. He talks the talk but he has not walked the walk. So I now ask, would the real Don Hardison please stand up? The Miami region’s customer service is probably worse than it was a year ago (according to comments on this site). This web site seems to get substantially more complaints about the company and its service centers than before. So what has Don Hardison fixed? All I see is the mask coming off and the real Don Hardison coming out. Just another Laboratory Corporation of America manager covering for the incompetence of those below him. It’s the “If they look good then you look like you are doing your job” philosophy. Forget reality.

In reference to the LabCorp Sucks web site, I intended to pull the plug once these two employees were fired for their actions. Their dismissal by Hardison would have shown that he, and  LabCorp, really mean what they say and that they intend to clean up the company and focus on customer service. That has not happened so this site is still up. Not to sound negative, I think that LabCorp Sucks will be around for a while.

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12 Apr 09 LabCorp’s HIPAA Violation

Here’s a recent story from the Winston-Salem News. LabCorp’s clear violation of the HIPAA laws is of grave concern. Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, releasing medical information to someone that has not been authorized to receive it is punishable by up to $10,000 per incident and prison time. The only problem is that out of tens of thousands of complaints filed, the government has fined just a handful. Well here’s the LabCorp HIPAA violation, which is probably happening on a daily basis.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — April 11, 2009, A Triad medical company said it mistakenly faxed almost a dozen pages of personal patient information to the wrong number.The lab test results were sent from LabCorp, and were meant to go to Winston-Salem Health Care. Instead, they went to Leigh Ambruso’s home insurance office.

“I don’t know how to read test results,” she said. “I know enough to know I wasn’t supposed to have this information.”

For six days LabCorp sent information from about 12 patients to Ambruso’s fax machine. Originally, she said, she didn’t think anything of it. “I just want people to know this is happening,” she said.

But the faxes kept coming. Ambruso said she explained the error to someone at Winston-Salem Health Care who was supposed to get the information. “She said, ‘Do me a favor and fax them to me,'” Ambruso said.

She said she finally had enough and realized the fax was violating the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). “I said, ‘If you send me one more fax, I’m going to call the patient and tell them I have their personal information,'” Ambruso said.

One of the patients….William Dull said he was anxiously waiting on results to determine if his cancer remained in remission. “It’s very upsetting,” Dull said. “It’s not being handled like it should be.”

No one at LabCorp would talk on camera. The company eventually responded.

“The fax number has been corrected in our computing systems to prevent similar incidents in the future,” the company said in a statement.

A Winston-Salem Health Care representative said that the company takes the security and confidentiality of patient information very seriously. “We appreciate the caller’s efforts to bring this situation to LabCorp’s attention so that it could be addressed,” a company representative said. Winston-Salem Health Care said it is still investigating the mix-up.

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13 Mar 09 LabCorp in Orlando, Florida

LabCorp-Orlando-Florida

LabCorp in Orlando, Florida seems to be a big mess. It seems that Mickey Mouse can probably do a better job
with patients than LabCorp’s Orlando employees. Here’s an email I recently received from Debbi about her
husband, a former LabCorp patient.

We had a similar experience with Labcorp here in Orlando. The wait is ridiculously long. Their staff is short. They got my husband’s test wrong and he had to go back. They didn’t get the results faxed to the doctor. He had to be on the phone with them several times to get them to get the results to the doctor. When he went back a second time to re-do the test, the lady who was in charge was rude and hurried and did a horrendous job taking the blood. He said he’s never had that kind of experience with a blood test before. My husband who very seldom gets angry at people, was livid. Our endocrinologist had sent us there for some reason. We prefer Quest which is only a few buildings down from Labcorp. Quest makes appointments. The wait is reasonable. The staff is professional and they always have several staff working together at the same time.

We will tell our endocrinologist that we will not be going back to Labcorp.

Thank you, Debbi in Orlando

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