Protect Your Medical Identity
If it’s not bad enough when thieves steal your credit card numbers, imagine if they steal your medical identity. Such theft can cost you money and possibly your health.
Medical identity theft occurs when criminals steal health insurance identification or social security numbers and use them to obtain health care services or reimbursement from insurers for fake claims.
If your medical identity is stolen, wrong information may be on your medical records. It could lead to misdiagnosis.
“Medical ID theft can be devastating for consumers,” said Doug Pollack, chief marketing officer for ID Experts, an identity theft protection company.
ID Experts offers the following steps to protect your health care information from being compromised by thieves:
- Eliminate your social security number from your insurance records. If your insurance company still uses social security numbers as insurance identification, don’t carry your card in your wallet unless you must. Instead, carry a copy of your card (front and back) and black out the last four digits. Write the name/phone number of a personal contact on the card copy—someone who could give the last four digits of your number to a medical provider in an emergency.
- Get copies of your medical records, insurance claims, and credit reports. Request copies, in writing, to be sent to you at a secure location such as a locked mailbox or post office box. Review these documents for unusual entries. Look for services never given to you or your family, inaccurate diagnoses, address changes, collections, and disclosures made to other agencies or health providers.
- Dispute any misinformation with your insurance provider, health provider, or credit bureaus for investigation and/or removal. Make all disputes in writing, and provide copies of any claims that include misinformation.
- Protect the paper trail. Use your shredder to destroy claims that are more than seven years old. Ask your insurance provider if you can receive online statements instead of paper.
Published September 8, 2008
Reviewed By: Shehnaz Shaikh, MD© www.health-eheadlines.com Consumer Health News Service