Identity Fraud and Health Insurance: How You can Protect Yourself

When most people think of identity fraud, they often think about their credit cards or bank accounts being used fraudulently, but often don’t relate it to health insurance. With medical care costs skyrocketing and health insurance at a premium these days, identity fraud related to health insurance is an increasing concern.

The Obama Administration recently began partnering with major insurers in order to battle against health care fraud and starting in June the federal government along with state investigators and health insurance companies will begin sharing data and best practices to prevent not only billions of dollars in questionable payments, but to also safeguard the insured consumers.

How medical identity theft can steal your money and your health

Health insurance identity theft occurs when someone impersonates an insured person at a hospital or doctor’s office using a stolen health insurance card, or sometimes just a social security number in order to get healthcare coverage for treatment. This is an increasingly growing crime and not only costs hospitals billions of dollars, it is also adversely affecting patients by costing the consumer upwards of $20,000 to resolve.

Fraudulent uses of policy numbers

Just some of the ways your medical insurance policy number can be fraudulently used include:

  • Having it sold on the black market
  • Used to buy addictive drugs
  • Used to file fraudulent claims. Some perpetrators team up with fake clinics which in turn file claims for treatments while keeping the health insurance payouts.

Protecting yourself from medical identity fraud

Protecting yourself from identity fraud, including medical identity fraud, is becoming increasing important. Medical identity theft can even place your health in jeopardy. Imagine what might happen if a hospital has a fake file on you with medical information on the theft instead of yours. This can lead to serious mistakes that can even be life threatening.

Keep an eye out for the following warning signs to avoid becoming a victim of medical identity fraud, according to the FTC:

  • Medical bills for services you never received
  • Debt collector calls in regard to medical debt you don’t know anything about
  • A credit report with medical collection notices that do not belong to you
  • Being denied insurance due to medical records showing a diagnosis or condition you don’t have

Protecting your information is crucial:

  • Shred all medical and other personal documents and keep insurance and medical files in a locked cabinet or drawer. Make sure any data kept on the computer is password-protected and never give out personal medical information over the phone.
  • Be sure to check your credit report annually to detect anything that does not belong to you as well ask asking your insurer for a list of claims paid under your health insurance policy at least once a year.

 

Lisa Mason is a freelance writer and VP of Special Media for Social Media Sun.