The newsLINK Group - Medical Identity Theft

Editorial Library Category: Health Topics: Identity Theft Title: Medical Identity Theft Author: newsLINK Staff Synopsis: Identity theft has become a large problem for several reasons. The first may be necessity. More people in the U.S. than ever before are without any insurance coverage at all, and medical expenses have never been higher. Editorial: Medical Identity Theft 4064 South Highland Drive, Millcreek, Utah 84124 │ thenewslinkgroup.com │ (v) 801.676.9722 │ (tf) 855.747.4003 │ (f) 801.742.5803 Editorial Library | © The newsLINK Group LLC 1 Defining Medical Identity Theft Medical theft has two basic categories: 1. Someone steals personal information in order to get any combination of insurance coverage, medical care, and prescription drugs. 2. A submitter in a medical office collects money from an insurance company by sending the insurance company some kind of a false medical claim. The Size of the Problem Identity theft has become a large problem for several reasons. The first may be necessity. More people in the U.S. than ever before are without any insurance coverage at all, and medical expenses have never been higher. For example, if a man has a kidney stone and goes to the emergency room to see a doctor, the cost of that visit to the emergency room may be enough to buy a small, reasonably good used car. It is no secret that medical care in the U.S. is expensive relative to other countries. In 2008, health care spending was more than $2.3 trillion, or $7,681 per resident. Health care spending represented 16.2% of the gross domestic product, with 31% (the largest share) going to hospitals and 21% going to doctors or clinics. That’s a lot of cash. For an identity thief who may be desperately short on financial resources, it may represent an unbearable amount of temptation. Medical identity theft has become easier for thieves to engage in because of several facts: Getting someone’s social security number is not always that difficult. A surprising number of people carry their social security cards in their wallets: 36% of those who are between 18 and 49, and 43% of those who are 50 or older. Even if they don’t carry their social security cards with them, however, many people carry some kind of insurance card that has a social security number on it. Bureaucracy is very much a part of the medical system, making it more difficult for you to protect yourself by limiting the information you give to a doctor’s office. If you’ve ever tried to withhold a social security number from a healthcare provider, you know it’s a losing battle. Also, the amount of paper you may have to deal with from billing and from the insurance company makes tracking a problem difficult. We live in a world that is increasingly connected by computer systems. That is especially true in the medical world. In 2008, nine million people in the U.S. either had a problem with identity theft themselves, or knew someone else who did. Of that number, 47% of them thought that the theft involved computerized health records. Most people are becoming more concerned about medical identity theft as the number of victims steadily increases, but 22% of those between 18 and 49 are still not worried, and a surprisingly large 25% of those over 50 are also unconcerned. In 2006, however, medical identity theft was identified as the fastest growing form of identity theft, with between 250,000 and 500,000 U.S. victims. In 2007, 8.3 million people suffered identity theft, with approximately 3% (or 249,000) of them specifically being forced to deal with medical identity theft. Medical theft is profitable. The street value for a stolen social security number is about $1. The street value for a stolen medical identity is about $50. The fact is that medical identity theft is both difficult and potentially devastating for its victims. In 29% of the cases, victims don’t find out there is even a problem for about a year, making it much harder to correct than it would be if they knew right away. Another 21% don’t find out for two years or more. In addition to the time delay, those who were robbed in 2010 ended up paying about $20,663 to cover medical care they never received. That’s a larger number than would generally be the case for someone whose identity is stolen… about twenty times larger. In fact, a little more than half of those who are victimized end up paying the bill in

RkJQdWJsaXNoZXIy NjAyOTE=