Medical identity theft occurs when a patient’s personal medical information is stolen and used by a thief to fraudulently receive health care services. Medical identity thieves can use patient information to have surgeries, get medical treatments, pay for prescriptions or make false claims with insurance companies. This can negatively impact the patient’s credit and finances, as well as their ability to receive the correct care in the future.
If a medical ID thief gets medical treatment using another person’s name, the con-artist’s health problems become part of the victim’s permanent medical record. This can affect their ability to receive quality treatment later.
- A scammer has their appendix removed using someone else’s name. Now,the victim cannot receive treatment if they have problems with their appendix.
- If the thief’s medical history contains multiple issues, it is not associated with the victims records, and their ability to acquire health coverage has been negatively impacted.
- Doctors will make emergency and other medical decisions based on what’s in the entire medical history. The thief’s history could cause their doctor to make decisions that could cause the victim serious problems, even death.
Medical ID Theft Statistics
Hospital Information Security puts measures in place that help decrease the chances of medical identity theft, which is on the rise in the US. How much are these scams are costing the American people?
- In 2010, 1.4 million US citizens and legal residents were victims of medical ID thieves. In 2011, this number increased to 1.9 million people.
- In 2010, the estimated cost per medical identity theft victim was $20,160. In 2011, it was $20,663 per victim.
- In 2010, the cost of these medical scams nationally was $28.6 billion. By 2011, the national cost had increased to $30.9 billion.
The number of medical ID scams happening in the US is increasing. It is vital that Hospital Information Security be implemented to protect patients.
How Medical Identity Theft Occurs
There are numerous ways a security breach occurs:
- 36% of victims’ information was stolen by a family member.
- 17% never find out how their medical identity was stolen.
- 14% became victims because their health care provider’s data was breached.
- 10% get victimized because of a malicious employee in the health provider’s office.
- 9% lose their wallet with personal information in it.
- 8% had statements intercepted during mailing.
- 6% are phishing attack victims.
This billion dollar crime affects hospitals as well as patients, hospitals do not get paid for their services, and patients will have ongoing issues with their health care.
Assessing a hospital or service provider’s risk, and possible security issues then implementing a sound information security plan can save providers and patients billions as well as provide peace of mind.