Richmond, VA (PRWEB) August 27, 2014
In 2013, nearly two million Americans were victims of medical identify theft, a growing concern that occurs when someone uses another individual’s personal information to obtain medical services, devices or prescriptions.
That's what Experient Health, the health insurance arm of the Virginia Farm Bureau, reported this month in its blog series on health care reform, health insurance and health care issues. The blog was launched last year to keep the community informed of issues and trends that impact their lives.
When people think of identify theft, they typically think of financial identify theft, but medical identify theft is a growing concern for individuals and employers.
In 2013, Americans impacted by medical identity theft faced losses of more than $22,000 per incident — six times higher than the average loss due to financial identify theft.
Employers are negatively affected through lost employee productivity and through the fraudulent overuse of health plan benefits.
So what is medical identity theft?
It's when, according to Experient Health, "someone uses another individual’s personal information, which may include his or her name, birth date, Social Security number and insurance information, to obtain medical services, devices or prescriptions."
Medical identify theft can come from several different sources:
- Friendly Fraud, or when a friend or family member illegitimately uses another person’s identify and medical information to obtain health care services or goods. Studies have shown and estimate that somewhere between one-third and one-half of all medical identity theft committed is due to “friendly fraud.”
- Dishonest staff in providers’ offices, including nurses, doctors, technicians, receptionist or other individuals, who steal private information.
- Hacker who sell personal and medical information online to people who want to use another person’s identity to obtain medical services.
"The increase in electronic health records (EHRs) is presenting greater opportunity for criminals to illegally access private information," Experient Health wrote. "In the past five years, breaches in medical information security have affected more than 31 million Americans, ac-cording to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)."
Though it is difficult to prevent medical identify theft, Experient Health recommends ways people can protect themselves, including using strong, unique usernames and passwords; not sharing personal information; keeping medical records in a safe place; and disposing properly of old records.
"The financial impact of medical identity theft can include lost money, unpaid bills and collection agency letters, and tarnished credit reports," Experient Health wrote. "Finding and correcting records can be a lengthy process, often taking as long as a year to complete. The messy con-sequences of inaccurate medical records and insurance claims can be both a time-consuming nuisance as well as a threat to the victim’s health. The medical repercussions for medical identity theft victims can include misdiagnosis, conflicting prescriptions, missed symptoms and other harmful consequences."
To understand more about medical identify theft and the ways to prevent it, visit the Experient Health blog post, and its entire series, online: http://experientinsurance.com/2014/07/27/understanding-medical-identity-theft/.