The Increase of Medical Identity Theft
Nearly everyone is familiar with identity theft, however, medical identity theft is something that has cropped up recently in the past few years. But the increase in the overall cases of medical identity theft has risen alarmingly. 2.3 million cases were recorded in 2014 alone. Such startling figures are sure to take one aback by surprise.
What is Medical Identity Theft
According to the FTC, medical identity theft happens when a criminal steals your name and health insurance number to get treatment from a hospital and/or prescription drugs. All such activity when gets mixed with your payment records and history can affect your patient history and credit reports. This, in turn, can have a drastic effect on your life and may also lead to doctors misdiagnosing you due to your payment records and history.
Many cases of such identity theft have risen over the years, including a case of a woman who had psoriasis. When her identity was stolen the thieves used her stolen insurance card to purchase over 1700 prescription opioid painkiller drugs. The police arrested the woman thinking that she was the one buying the drugs, and was only exonerated because she had filed a police report when her cards were stolen.
How to stay safe from Medical Identity Theft
Medical identity theft may seem like a frightening injustice to happen to someone, but with a few safeguards, it is possible to stay safe from it.
- Ask your medical insurance provider about their online security. Check to see whether they use encryption on their data and have sufficient measures put up for cybersecurity. A lot of businesses in the insurance sector are now moving towards online user verification. It requires a user to verify their identity online. Such identity checks include document verification, facial verification or simple two-factor authentication. Learn more here about identity protection.
- Request for an Explanation of Benefits (EOB) from your insurance provider. An EOB helps you identify any irregularities in your treatment history. You can notify your company if you spot any treatment you know you didn't take so they can take the appropriate action regarding the fraud.
- Apart from checking your EOBs, you should also check your medical records every year. It may be a lengthy procedure to call multiple doctors, but it can prove to be worth the effort. The law in the U.S. allows citizens to access their medical records from their providers and provides them with a legal ground to stand on if the insurance provider refuses to do so.
- Do not under any circumstances share your medical insurance information with anyone other than the hospital you are getting your treatment from. In that case too make sure you have provided the hospital with identity verification.
- You also need to be careful if you get free health service offers out of the blue. Such scams are designed to steal your medical identity and trick you into providing your insurance details.