Medical identity theft is an increasing crime for many Americans. The high cost of medical care has turned thieves down a different road, medical identification theft.  This is the act of a thief getting medical care using your identity. There are times when the theft involves using your health insurance information and other times when they are simply posing as you to receive medical care.

Medical identity theft includes  prescription, services provided at the doctor’s office, hospital emergency rooms and some have went as far as receiving surgical services under someone else’s name and personal information.

A thief can steal your medical identification and even if they use your insurance company for coverage, after the company pays their part of the bill the balance can be charged to you which can be devastating financially for many of us.

Who are these medical identification thieves?

Sometimes medical thieves may even be family members that have enough information about you to steal your medical identity. Sometimes a thief may be a doctor or hospital staff member using your information to bill fraudulently for services that weren’t provided.

Numerous health care providers can also work as a group of thieves to commit medical identity theft which is often more dangerous. A group of thieves working together are more likely to avoid protections that have been put in place at different levels to flag ID or identification theft. For instance, you could have the billing staff at the doctor’s office that is billing services the doctor didn’t provide. The doctor that knows they didn’t provide the services and an agent of the insurance company that processes claims to pay the liability that the insurance company doesn’t owe.

What is the impact of medical identification theft?

Medical identification theft can cost a number of people.

  • They can cost the victim in owing balances for services they didn’t receive as well as having bills they cannot afford to pay and ruining their credit as a result.
  • If the hospital or doctor didn’t know the patient wasn’t who they stated they were and the insurance company doesn’t pay for the services they are out of the cost of the care
  • Insurance companies paying for the services in error will raise everyone’s rates as a result of fraudulent information to their underwriting
  • Different medical history information is provided to doctors by a thief that may be deadly when combined with your medical information. For example, the fraud may not be allergic to certain drugs and reported no allergy. However, you are allergic to this same drug and are given this drug when you shouldn’t have been

What can be done?

The only winner is the thief when it comes to medical identification theft.

The medical community should have some responsibility in medical identification theft. Having or not having a health insurance card is not an sign that a person is who they say they are when it comes to medical care and health insurance providers should recognize this and compare other data for confirmation of a patient’s identity.

Health insurance companies should also help protect the patient from the crimes against their medical insurance.  All of these parties working with the patient can help keep us all safe from medical identification theft.