According to the American Health Information Management Association, medical identity theft accounts for 3% of identity theft crimes. The NY Times reports that 250,000 people a year who have their identities stolen are medical identity theft cases.
Medical Identity Theft affects individuals, healthcare providers, and health plans.
1. For the individual, it leads to a trail of false medical records and can plague your medical and financial life for many years. The elderly, newborns, minors, people whose medical information are on public registries (e.g. cancer registry) and individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities are particularly at risk for medical identity theft. Dead people are often targeted too.
2. A health care provider who incorrectly bills the victim for treatment provided to the identity thief may have to write off all the expenses related to the thief as he has trouble canceling health insurance claims that were made for the thief. His reputation can be damaged and his practice negatively affected.
3. The reputation of the health plan can be damaged too as they pre-approved and paid for the thief’s treatment which is applied to your annual or lifetime benefit allowance. They also store wrong medical information in its database and share it with the Medical Information Bureau.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Question: What happens when a medical identity thief uses my name, social security number, and medical insurance information to get medical services from doctors, emergency rooms, hospitals, and pharmacies?
Answer: A false medical record is created in your name.
Question: How does that affect me?
Answer: In an emergency, you could be treated based on the wrong information and DIE as the new record contains the thief’s blood type, allergies, prescription drug use, and a history of his diseases.
Question: How can I find out if my medical identity has been stolen?
Answer: It is usually very difficult to discover that you are a victim of medical identity theft as it is often hidden in complex payment systems, databases, and medical records.
Question: When I find out that I have been a victim, how can I fix it?
Answer: It is even more difficult to correct. Under the federal law known as Hipaa (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) you are entitled to a copy of your medical records. However, once your information is mixed in with the thief’s information, you may have trouble getting your files as privacy laws regulate that the thief’s medical information, now in your records, must also be kept confidential.
Question: What can I do to correct my record?
Answer: Ten Steps to Get Your Medical Records Corrected
o Contact the health information manager, privacy officer, or anti-fraud hotline at the provider organization or health plan where the medical identity theft occurred.
o Request a copy of your medical records. If the provider organization or health plan refuses to give you access to your records, file a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights or Health and Human Services at (866) 627-7748.
o Work with the organization where the medical identity theft occurred to stop the flow of incorrect information and correct the existing inaccurate health record entries.
o File a police report.
o File a complaint with the attorney general in the state where the medical identity theft occurred.
o Check with state authorities for resources.
o File a complaint with the Identity Theft Data Clearinghouse operated by the Federal Trade Commission and the Internet Crime Complaint Center.
o Contact the Department of Health and Human Service for Medicare or Medicaid fraud (800) 368-1019.
o Review health records to make sure they have been corrected prior to seeking healthcare.
o Change all personal identification numbers and passwords.
Once your medical identity has been stolen, your life becomes a nightmare as it is a life and death issue. All your energy is consumed with getting it back and it can take years. If you want to correct your record, you have to do it on a case-by-case basis as the wrong information may be in dozens of health care providers and insurance plan records. Until such time as all your records are corrected, you could be denied additional health, disability, or life insurance and your credit record could be permanently damaged.
I want to share with you the way I protect my medical identity and what kind of help I would get if my medical identity were stolen. I just love the Identity Protection Service I have as it monitors my social security number and medical insurance information every day for medical fraud, insurance and criminal records.
Check List to Determine whether an Identity Protection Service would be good for you:
o Would you like a service that protects your medical identity so it cannot be stolen?
o Would you like a service that monitors your social security number and medical insurance information every day so you would know right away if a thief has stolen your medical identity?
o Would you like your entire family to be protected, including your children to age 25 and senior dependents?
o Would you like to have an Expense Reimbursement Insurance Policy?
o Would you like to fully recover your identity by having a professional team of paralegals call the agencies, do the paper work, and cooperate with the police to help find the thief.