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Online Coupon Advertising Gets Thumps Up From The OIG

On March 27, 2012 the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) released Advisory Opinion No. 12-02. The opinion stated that a proposed website that would display coupons and advertising from health care providers, suppliers, and other entities would not lead to administrative sanctions or civil monetary penalties under the federal anti-kickback statute or the prohibition against providing inducements to beneficiaries.

A corporation would operate the proposed website that would contract with providers, suppliers, and other health care entities who wish to provide coupons and advertisements on the website. The coupons can offer discounts on services or items through either percentage or dollar-off amounts; however, the coupons cannot offer free services and any coupon must apply to the entire service cost, not just the patient’s cost-sharing obligation. Any provider who wishes to pay a membership fee may post coupons on the website. Additionally, health care providers and suppliers may choose to purchase advertising space on the website.

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