Milwaukee, WI – Podiatrist John Lanham has been accused of lying to his patients about their insurance coverage only to turn around and stick them with huge bills. The twist here? He admits it.
Dr. Lanham has received more complaints to state regulators about his business practices in the past five years than any other Wisconsin doc. Despite all of that, he continues on with his questionable business practices and frustrates new patients that wander into his office.
According to complaints, Dr. Lanham tells patients that their visit will be covered by their insurance, and then turns around and sticks them with huge bills.
Essentially, he tells people that he is in their insurance network when he knows full well that he isn’t, so his patients end up paying for his services out of pocket.
Worse, he admits it.
“How can I stay in business if I have to disclose to patients that I’m not in their network?” Lanham told the Journal Sentinel.
He says that because of what he charges, he would lose patients if he was honest with them.
“I unfortunately have to survive on patients’ ignorance,” he said.
He also says that he doesn’t lie to his patients. He them that he accepts their health insurance but doesn’t “expound on that” and claims that what he’s doing is completely legal.
“There’s not going to be a single judge who’s going to force me to disclose to patients that I’m not in their networks,” he said.
Why Hasn’t He Been Punished?
It’s complicated, but, out of 92 complaints lodged against him since 2001, 66 never made it past the Department of Safety and Professional Services for lack of evidence. Others are dismissed for other reasons, and those remaining are downplayed into nothing by lawyers and what have you.
Basically, it’s a giant game of bureaucratic tag.
Based on the advice of his lawyer, Dr. Lanham has decided to “soften” his approach and admit to patients that he is out-of-network if they ask. That’s about as far as consequences will go.
“He’s basically doing this because he can get away with it,” said a former patient who was charged $6,000 for her daughter’s ingrown toenail. “I don’t know how he can sleep at night.”
Almost all of the complaints against Dr. Lanham concern excessive fees, fraudulent billing or charges for services that were never performed.
Still, he says he’s a victim too.
“If I was doing something fraudulent, I would be out of business by now,” said Lanham. “If I’m still getting all these complaints but I’m not breaking any laws, then don’t come down on me. Fix the system.”
“You are picking on a little guy who is struggling to make a living,” he said of his critics.
What do you think of Dr. Lanham’s business practices? If you’re in the Milwaukee area, have you ever been treated by Dr. Lanham? Leave us your stories in the comments below.
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