Concerns Raised Over Growing Medical Identity Theft
Identity theft across all fields continues to grow at an alarming rate, especially as more and more individuals and companies store their information electronically. One particular area of concern focuses on the medical industry, where the rate of fraud is particularly high.
According to a study conducted by the Medical Identity Fraud Alliance, the victims of identity theft in the healthcare industry increased by 500,000 from 2013 to 2014. The study revealed that over 2 million individuals fell victim to this type of fraud in 2014 alone. Similarly, the amount of out of pocket expenses due to this theft also increased. Among the victims, 65% were forced to pay more than $13,000 out of their own pockets to resolve the crime against them.
In addition to the expenses associated with medical identity theft, victims can experience negative effects regarding their healthcare. Misdiagnosis, delayed healthcare, and mistreatment are among the risks posed to patients whose identity has been used to defraud the healthcare system. Victims may end up with a bill for services not received, a collections notice on their credit report of unknown origin, a denial of insurance coverage, increased premiums due to a condition they don’t have, or a number of other difficulties as a result of fraud.
With these incidents occurring with growing frequency, healthcare providers must diligently take precautions to protect the information of their patients. A number of IT services have been rapidly developing to combat identity fraud across a number of industries, including healthcare, as fraud becomes more prevalent each year.
Healthcare providers who must make certain to protect their patients’ information include:
- Mental Health Professionals
- General Practitioners
- Physical Therapists
- Specialists, such as dermatologists, cardiologists, and endocrinologists
Patients are urged to take steps to protect their medical information and to spot potential fraud, such as reviewing all documents that they receive related to their healthcare and showing caution when providing sensitive information over the internet. In conjunction, care providers can proactively protect their own business and their patients by ensuring that their security measures surrounding their information storage are updated and meet HIPPA standards. Professionals should consult with their IT support company to review if their data is being adequately protected from theft and misuse.