A person needs medical treatment or even surgery and doesn’t have insurance. What’s he going to do? Some people will resort to stealing your medical insurance and other personal information.
What does that mean for you? It could mean false information goes into your medical file, such as test results that aren’t yours, inaccurate history of drug or alcohol abuse, etc. That, in turn, could lead to improper treatment.
How do you know if your personal or health insurance information has been compromised? According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), you may be a victim of medical identity theft if:
- You get a bill for medical service you didn’t receive.
- Your medical Explanation of Benefits (EOB) statement shows claims for treatment you did not receive.
- A debt collector contacts you about a medical debt you don’t owe.
- You order a copy of your credit report and see medical collection notices you don’t recognize.
- You try to make a legitimate insurance claim and your health plan says you’ve reached your limit on benefits; or
- You are denied insurance because your medical records show a condition you don’t have.
How do you avoid medical identity theft, or at least diminish the risk? The FTC provides on their website at www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/idtheft/idt10.shtm the following information:
- Verify a source before sharing information. As always, don’t give out personal or medical information on the phone or through the mail unless you made the initial contact. Medical identity thieves pose as employees of insurance companies, doctor’s offices, pharmacies, etc. to get your personal information. They use this information in false claims for Medicare reimbursements.
- Protect your medical information just as you would your credit card or social security information. Shred papers that you are tossing. The FTC says it is a good idea to destroy the labels on your prescription bottles and packages before you throw them out.
If you are like me, you are not thinking about people using your personal information for medical care. It happens and could be problematic for you. Keep that possibility in mind and protect your insurance and medical information.
Have you had a problem with someone stealing your medical identity? If so, share your information, it could help protect the rest of us.