Technology was meant to make our lives easier. In many ways it has, but it also has made life more complex. In the old days to protect our sensitive information from ending up in the wrong hands, they told us to make sure that when we charge something we tear up our carbons. Unfortunately, just like carbon copies are long gone, so is the simplicity of protecting our sensitive information. I bring this up because there is a new type of identity theft that has been rapidly growing as of late and that is medical identity theft.
Medical identity theft is on the rise with over 2 million cases reported and that number is growing every year. Medical identity theft is where someone obtains your medical insurance information and uses it to see a doctor, obtain prescription medications or even to use your insurance to obtain medical devices. Medical identity theft cannot only cause you problems with your finances but it can cause you health issues as the crooks’ own medical treatment, history and diagnosis can be mixed up with your own electronic health records; thus, potentially complicating your healthcare for years to come.
Medical identity crooks not only have been known to file false insurance claims, but also fraudulently acquire government benefits such as Medicare or Medicaid. In addition, the crooks sell your medical information on the black market where it is used to create new medical identities from your information.
Unfortunately, medical identity theft is even more difficult to detect and deal with than financial identity theft. The laws that protect consumers are not specifically designed to deal with medical identity theft and that can cause some issues.
Just like with financial identity theft where you always have to be on guard, the same thing applies to medical identity theft. Some of the same rules that apply to financial identity theft also apply to medical identity theft. You must be extremely cautious regarding whom you allow access to your medical information and you must be diligent in protecting your passwords and sensitive information at all times. In addition, there are a couple of other things you can do. First, under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) you are legally entitled to a copy of your medical and billings records. It’s a good idea to occasionally obtain these records and review them. In addition, when you receive those explanations of benefit letters it is important to review them just like you would review a financial statement. Furthermore, it is important to review all letters and other forms of correspondence you may receive from your health insurer or healthcare provider. You need to review these documents for accuracy and if there is a problem you need to notify someone immediately.
One last note, just like you shouldn’t post on Facebook or any social media that you’re going on vacation, you also don’t want to post on social media anything about any upcoming medical procedure. We don’t want to give the crooks any inroads.
Technology may have made our lives simpler in certain areas but it’s also made it more complex. We cannot put our heads in the sand, we have to accept that in today’s world we must be more vigilant and it’s now not only protecting financial records but also, medical records.
Rick is a fee-only financial advisor. His website is www.bloomassetmanagement.com. If you would like Rick to respond to your questions, please email Rick at firstname.lastname@example.org.