Health

Anthem Blue Cross joins Aetna in investigating Lap-Band surgery centers affiliated with 1-800-GET-THIN

A billboard for the Lap Band over the 210 freeway. A second large California health insurer is investigating possible medical fraud by a group of popular weight-loss surgery centers.
A billboard for the Lap Band over the 210 freeway. A second large California health insurer is investigating possible medical fraud by a group of popular weight-loss surgery centers.
Corey Bridwell/KPCC

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A second large California health insurer is investigating possible medical fraud by a group of popular weight-loss surgery centers.

Anthem Blue Cross, California’s largest for-profit insurance company, has confirmed that it is conducting a health insurance fraud investigation of the California Lap-Band surgery centers affiliated with the 1-800-GET-THIN campaign.

Anthem Blue Cross spokesman Darrel Ng said the company is conducting an “ongoing” medical fraud investigation and that it is cooperating with authorities. Anthem would not say whether those authorities are regulatory or law enforcement agencies.

Ng also would not say how long Anthem has been investigating the surgery centers, or give any other details about the case.

A spokesman for the surgery centers said they have not been contacted by Anthem Blue Cross and are not aware of any investigation.

Another major insurance company, Aetna, announced in January that it’s investigating the Lap-Band surgery centers for possible medical fraud.

Four doctors who used to work for the surgery centers have sued, alleging their identities were stolen as part of a medical fraud scheme. The centers’ owners have denied any wrongdoing in that case.

The centers are also facing legal action stemming from the deaths of five patients who underwent Lap-Band weight loss procedures.