A PREMIUM TIMES investigation has exposed a massive referral kickback scheme showing how the country’s top diagnostic service providers, medical doctors and hospitals steal billions of naira yearly from unsuspecting patients who pay for healthcare out-of-pocket.
During the 20-month undercover investigation, a PREMIUM TIMES journalist posing as a doctor referred several persons to leading diagnostic centres for medical tests.
The online publication said in a statement on Sunday by its Managing Editor, Idris Akinbajo: “We covered the costs of the tests as well as funded the patients’ transportation to the laboratories.
“Our findings are shocking and disturbing.
“Almost all the labs paid our reporter kickbacks of between 10 per cent and 20 per cent of the cost of each test conducted.
“None of them tried to verify if the reporter was indeed a doctor as he claimed.
“One medical laboratory service provider even gives doctors loyalty tokens for every referral sent to it, which doctors can use to purchase telephone recharge cards, utility bills, spa, and vacations.
“The loyal tokens also qualify doctors to obtain car loans and mortgages backed by the diagnostic firm.
“This fraudulent kickback scheme does not only contravene extant regulations, it also places an additional financial burden on sick Nigerians 90 per cent of who pay for medical expenses out of pocket.
“We are shocked by the outcome of this investigation.
“We hope that relevant authorities will act swiftly to halt this bribery that is clearly overburdening patients and endangering health care in our country.”
The series will run this week, Akinbajo said.