Medical Identity Theft
Medical identity theft occurs when someone uses your name or health insurance information to:
- See a doctor
- Get a medical procedure or medication
- File claims with your health insurance provider
- Receive other goods or services
In addition to the problems associated with financial identity theft, medical identity theft adds another dangerous consequence: contamination of your personal medical records. When someone receives health care services by pretending to be you or by using your health insurance account, the thief’s test results and medical diagnoses are added to your file. Having incorrect information mixed in with your medical files puts your health at risk, especially in an emergency. Patients who discover that they have been victims of medical identity theft must work to get corrected information in their files.
You could be a victim of medical ID theft if you:
- Get a bill or other paperwork regarding a medical procedure or service that you did not receive
- Discover incorrect information in your medical records
- Are notified that you have “maxed out” your medical benefits
- Are contacted by a debt collector about a medical debt you don’t owe
- Discover collection notices or other indications of medical debt activity in your credit report
- Are denied insurance coverage because of incorrect information in your medical records
In addition to the strategies you use to protect yourself from financial identity theft:
- Read your medical bills and paperwork carefully to make sure they match up with the care that you received. Check to see if the name of the provider and the facility are correct, and that the dates of service match your records.
- If you see information that is incorrect, report it to your health plan and to the provider. Point out the faulty information, ask that it be deleted, and if possible provide documents or other proof that supports your request.
- Be very cautious about sharing your medical and insurance information. Identity thieves want this information, and they’ll masquerade as an insurance company employee, a worker in your doctor’s office, a pharmacist or other professional to try to get it. When you need to provide medical or insurance information, don’t rely on contact information provided in a message or email. Use the contact information you can verify for your provider or the contact information on the back of your insurance card.
- Don’t respond to pitches that ask you to share your health plan ID number or other confidential information in order to receive “free” medical services or products.