Can identity thieves be using your medical records and health insurance information to get medical treatment and prescription drugs? Do people use your information to submit false bills to insurance companies? You bet they do and that’s why millions of people worldwide have been victims of medical identity theft.
Medical identity theft occurs when your medical records or health insurance records are used by someone else to obtain medical related services. This could be the worst type of identity theft because it can affect you in so many ways. If someone steals your medical insurance number and goes to a doctor or hospital and receives services, possibly even surgery, you can have some huge problems. It can also mean that your private medical information that should be confidential, may now be public.
Whenever someone uses your identity to get treatment, this becomes a part of your medical history which will contain information that is inaccurate, possibly leading to improper treatments. That information could be a different blood type, misleading test results, allergies or perhaps even a diagnosis of an illness such as HIV. This can result in adverse reactions to medications or getting the wrong blood type in a transfusion. There are enough errors that occur in medical treatments already without making the problems worse through bad information.
Now that your medical history has been altered, the effects on your insurance coverage and premiums are also in jeopardy. You may have unpaid insurance bills from services you didn’t receive. Usually medical insurance does not pay for all of the charges leaving you responsible for the unpaid deductibles and co-payments. Your insurance benefits can reach their limits so when you do need medical care you will find that you are no longer insured. Not having health insurance can be a big problem anyway, especially for the elderly and people who have chronic health conditions.
Other issues could be credit problems and legal issues. Suppose someone receiving treatment using your information is found under the influence of illegal drugs, that may bring the police to your home or business. You can be denied employment because your credit rating has been damaged from the inaccurate information that now appears in your medical history. The HIPPA laws make it very difficult for you to get access to medical information. Just like other types of identity theft that everyone can fall victim to, you can count on a long battle to restore your identity by yourself.
It’s everyone’s responsibility to protect their own personal medical information. Identity theft cannot be completely prevented and with the rising costs of medical treatment along with the economic downturn, I only see this problem getting worse. This is just another reason why it’s necessary to have a plan in place that works quickly to minimize the damage and restore your identity.