Hank Investigates: Mistaken Identity Mess

(WHDH) — It’s a mistaken identity mess and one local family is enraged. Because of computer confusion in state systems, they may have to change their little boy’s name! Hank investigates.

What’s in a name?

For Tammy and Jeff’s soccer-playing son it’s a tribute to a beloved grandfather.

“We picked a very rare name,” Tammy says.

But now they may have to legally change that name, a desperate step to fix a mistaken identity nightmare.

“It’s, it’s heart-wrenching,” Jeff says.

They say it started when their son was a baby and their private health insurance refused to pay for his appointments.

“Our wellness visits were denied because we had already used that nine-month wellness visit a week or two prior, which we had not,” Tammy says.

Eventually, they discovered their insurance had been paying the medical bills for a different boy.

“It’s just overwhelming,” Tammy says.

The family says their mailbox gets filled with claims for that same boy’s medical procedures, tests, and ambulance rides.

They tried to fix the problem for six years. But they say the state-run MassHealth program kept sending the other boy’s bills to their insurance company.

“It’s kind of scary,” Tammy says.

Tammy once picked up her son’s prescription at the drug store but it had the other boy’s name and address on it.

Why is it happening? Tammy says the other boy has the same birthday and first and last name as their son and he lives in the same county.

“The first thing that went through my head was what is the possibility of this even happening?” Tammy says.

MassHealth refuses to talk about specific cases. But a spokesperson tells us when the program receives a claim, they check a database to see if a patient has private insurance that might cover the bill.

They search the database for a person’s first and last name, birth date, and county of residence. The system doesn’t require middle names and doesn’t rely on social security numbers.

“So, the other boy has a different middle name, different parents, different hospital, different town, different doctor, all different?” Hank asked.

“Yep,” Tammy says.

“And no red flags went up to anybody?” Hank asked.

“No,” Tammy says.

“It’s mind-boggling,” Jeff adds.

When their son started school there was even more confusion with the other boy.

Tammy and Jeff were shocked when they got notices from the school saying they were eligible for free lunches.

And an EBT card for meal assistance recently showed up in the mail!

It was all meant for the other child.

“It makes me sad, very sad,” Tammy says.

So now as an unbelievable last resort and at the advice of an attorney, they’re considering legally changing their son’s name.

“If this can’t be fixed now at this age, what happens going forward?” Tammy says.

“We’re still really struggling with it,” Jeff says.

MassHealth insists mix-ups like this are rare and when they’ve discovered they’re flagged in the system.

So, why hasn’t this one been fixed for six years? State officials again refused to talk about Tammy and Jeff’s case but promised us they’d contact the family.

If you have a story idea or tip email TellHank@whdh.com

(Copyright (c) 2021 Sunbeam Television. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)