So far, every concern predicted about the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, is coming true–the higher premiums, people not being able to keep their original plans, etc. Now we can add another prediction coming to fruition–a rise in incidents of fraud in the form of medical identity theft. This could be attributed to new databases being built to comply with the law and confusion surrounding it. The thieves are probably taking advantage of the possibility that all the i’s may not have been dotted, nor all the t’s crossed in the rush to get the new systems ready. Last year 1.84 million people had their lives negatively affected by medical identity thieves who have doubled their hack attacks on health care providers since 2010, according to Daily Finance, who reported on this growing problem today.
These online criminals are on the hunt for free healthcare, which places not only bank accounts and credit cards at risk, but one’s health as well. When they steal someone’s identity and visit a medical facility under that stolen identity, the victim may not only end up being charged for a procedure or exam they never had, but the medical information from the thief goes into the victim’s medical records. This could cause life-threatening situations if the victim has to go into surgery and is given the wrong type of blood or is given the wrong prescription based on the thief’s ailment. On average, victims have ended up with $22,000 in medical charges because of this crime and it has taken over a year for them to clean up their credit history, fight the medical charges, and clear their medical records. Some thieves have even used stolen medical information to file fraudulent tax returns.
Several companies in the healthcare field and organizations concerned about this trend have formed the Medical Identity Fraud Alliance to fight this fraud. However, the Daily Finance obtained some helpful advice from the Federal Trade Commission on what steps to take to avoid being a victim or what to do if you become one. For instance, they suggest checking your credit report at least once a year, shredding all medical documents you don’t need, and paying attention to all charges appearing on all medical bills. For more information, consult the article and it’s helpful links.
Annalisa Kraft-Lender. Medical Identity Theft: The Fraud That Can Kill You. DailyFinance.com. March 31st, 2014