Friday, May 18, 2007

Medical Identity Theft Can be a Killer

Financial identity theft is in the news all over. It is an epidemic in this country and is showing no real signs of letting up any time soon.

But medical identity theft and how it can impact someone is not a common topic and gets under reported by the media.

Medical identity theft occurs when someone steals your identity for any medical service ranging from prescriptions to full blown surgery.

While the number of victims for this crime is estimated to be low on a yearly basis in the range of 400,000 to 800,000 (compared to the 8-10 million financial thefts) the financial impact is much greater and the impact to personal lives can be deadly.

The theft can occur from an individual to the office staff member or by an actual practitioner. A doctor or psychiatrist may create an unfounded diagnosis in order to inflate bills and steal from your insurance. So how does this affect someone? Try getting a job if an employer does a medical background check on you and finds in your record you are diagnosed as psychotic and suffer from delusions when you really don’t. And then try getting something like that changed. Sure, the keepers of that information are going to let a psychotic person change their record! That can damage you for life! It makes financial identity theft look like a prank.

Someone could get medical treatment in your name for a serious heart condition and then you apply for life insurance. The letter will read “ We are sorry but we cannot offer life insurance to a 38 year old male who has had 3 massive coronaries and bypass surgery.”

The ramifications on a personal life can be horrific. And then try getting it changed. It is not a simple as sending a protest letter to the 3 credit agencies and telling them there is an error.

Can it get worse? Absolutely! You go to the hospital for a major medical issue and find out your health insurance has been maxed out and you are not covered for a treatment that you need. Are you going to jump out of that hospital bed and straighten out the error then come back to get the treatment in a month or two?

The killer issue is if you go in for surgery and someone has received treatment in your name prior to you but your records now reflect the identity thief, including things like blood type, medications and may not reflect your current medications. You receive the wrong blood type, a drug that interacts, or the wrong dose of anesthesia , all that will kill you in a heartbeat.

So now you need to start looking at your medical records before you receive treatment to be sure your true records are reflected.

More on this soon