Thursday, November 23, 2006

Medical Identity Theft

Have you heard the latest? According to the article, “Your Medical Records, Stolen!” by Max Alexander in the November 2006 issue of Readers Digest our medical identities are now at risk.

Thieves are stealing our name and insurance information to obtain drugs and expensive medical treatments. But as the article points out, the money isn’t the half of it. When someone steals your name to receive health care, his medical history becomes part of the record – and setting the record straight can be extremely difficult. In a medical emergency having someone else’s medical history commingled with your own could be disastrous.

The best advice for prevention is to never ever give your social security number out to anyone, including a doctor, at a doctor’s office or medical center. It only takes one dishonest person. It used to be a common practice for insurance companies to use your social security number as your insurance ID which was printed on your insurance card. Most insurance companies have eliminated this practice. If your insurance company has not, call and request a new ID number. In the mean time only carry your insurance card with you when visiting a doctor for the first time. Also, read the explanation of benefits forms (EOB's) you receive from your insurance companies. I know from personal experience administering my company's medical insurance, many recipients file or throw their statements away without looking at them. They are a detailed statement listing the medical services your insurance company is or is not paying on your behalf. A couple of phone calls concerning a questionable EOB early in the fraud chain may eliminate a huge problem down the road.

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