Prescription to fight medical I-D fraud

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: January 24th, 2007
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

When you think of I-D theft, what comes to mind? Stolen credit cards, loans taken out in your name… and a lot of hassle, right? Unfortunately, identity thieves can target another part of your life— your medical records.

The Los Angeles Times reports that even though most of the millions of I-D theft cases each year in the United States involve credit cards, a 2003 government study estimated that at least two-hundred-thousand cases involved medical identity fraud.

Medical I-D theft is serious. It could be life- threatening if health providers have bad information when they treat you. It’s also expensive if you’re charged for services and medical equipment you didn’t receive and office visits you didn’t make.

Here are some pointers to ward off medical identity fraud:

First, treat the possibility of medical I-D theft as seriously as any other type of I-D theft.

Next, each year ask your health insurer for a list of benefits paid in your name… and double-check your billing address and phone number. Also ask for a history of disclosures, which shows what information from your medical records was disclosed and when, why and to whom.

Request a copy of your current medical files from your doctors, pharmacy, laboratory and hospital. If you find mistakes or false information in your files, amend them.

Finally, keep an eye on your credit report. Many victims of medical I-D fraud discover the problem when they see a collection notice posted from a medical office, hospital or lab.