Personal identity theft can be defined as any instance where someone fraudulently uses another person’s name, address, date of birth, and/or social security number to conduct business. Medical identity theft is a more specific type of personal identity theft. A thief may fraudulently use your name or health insurance information to get medical care, get prescription drugs, or medical equipment.
Medical identity theft harms everyone
Insured individuals suffer several types of damages from medical identity theft. The financial impact of this type of theft can be devastating. Not only may your credit be affected via collection notices for healthcare services rendered to identity thieves, you may be denied insurance benefits because the thief maxed out your coverage on services for themselves. Victims of medical identity theft are also burdened with the hassle of correcting their medical records. You will likely be required to submit paperwork and sworn affidavits to have fraudulent claims and information deleted from your healthcare records and medical billing accounts. This can take a great deal of time and resources to accomplish. As medical identity theft increases, insured individuals may be subject to increased insurance premiums charged to offset these losses.
Even worse than the financial side of medical identity theft is the impact it can have on your personal medical history. Once a person steals your medical identity and seeks treatment, their medical information gets mixed in with yours. This can create serious problems for your future medical care. Because of medical privacy laws, it can also be extremely difficult to have this information removed from your file.
Healthcare providers may also suffer financial losses as a result of medical identity theft. Hospitals, doctor’s offices and pharmacies are at a loss when insurers deny payment for services due to fraudulent claims. Often the next course of action is to collect payment from the victim of the medical identity theft putting the burden back on them.
How to detect medical identity theft
There are several ways you can detect medical identity theft. First, be sure to review your medical and insurance statements to verify the treatments listed belong to you. Any discrepancies should be reported immediately to your healthcare provider or insurance carrier for correction. A denial of insurance coverage, bill for medical services you didn’t receive, or a phone call from a medical debt collector may also be signs that your medical information has been stolen.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has information available to help you safeguard against medical and personal identity theft as well as resources to help you correct mistakes and fraudulent activity. Visit their website here.
Data breach lawsuits seek to protect consumers
Class action attorneys at Cohen & Malad, LLP are seeking legal remedies to protect victims of data breaches like the ones suffered at health insurer Anthem and medical software company Medical Informatics Engineering (MIE). Both of these data breaches exposed the personal information of millions of consumers to cyber thieves. In the case of MIE, personal health information was also accessed by computer hackers. If you would like more information about either of these lawsuits, contact us to speak with one of our attorneys.