Med­i­cal iden­tity theft can be dif­fi­cult to un­tan­gle

The Standard Journal - - LIFESTYLE -

Med­i­cal iden­tity theft can be one of the most dev­as­tat­ing forms of iden­tity theft.

This type of iden­tity theft sig­nif­i­cantly im­pacts peo­ple be­cause vic­tims find it dif­fi­cult to undo the dam­age caused by in­ac­cu­rate med­i­cal records or fraud­u­lent bills. Bet­ter Busi­ness Bureau (BBB) is urg­ing con­sumers to care­fully check all healthre­lated doc­u­men­ta­tion from doc­tors, drug stores and in­sur­ance providers.

A thief may use your name or health in­sur­ance num­bers to see a doc­tor, get pre­scrip­tion drugs, file claims with your in­sur­ance provider, or get other care. If the thief’s health in­for­ma­tion is mixed with yours, your treat­ment, in­sur­ance and pay­ment records, and credit re­port may be af­fected.

De­tect­ing Iden­tity Theft

Read your med­i­cal and in­sur­ance state­ments regularly and com­pletely. They can show warn­ing signs of iden­tity theft. Read the Ex­pla­na­tion of Ben­e­fits (EOB) state­ment or Medi­care Sum­mary No­tice that your health plan sends af­ter treat­ment. Check the name of the provider, the date of

Med­i­cal ser­vice, and the ser­vice pro­vided. Do the claims paid match the care you re­ceived? If you see a mis­take, con­tact your health plan and re­port the prob­lem.

Other signs of med­i­cal iden­tity theft in­clude:

a bill for med­i­cal ser­vices you didn’t re­ceive

a call from a debt col­lec­tor about a med­i­cal debt you don’t owe

med­i­cal col­lec­tion no­tices on your credit re­port that you don’t rec­og­nize

a no­tice from your health plan say­ing you reached your ben­e­fit limit

a de­nial of in­sur­ance be­cause your med­i­cal records show a con­di­tion you don’t have.

Make sure to read your med­i­cal and in­surances state­ments regularly and com­pletely, as they can show signs of iden­tity theft. Check the name of the provider, the date of ser­vice and the ser­vice pro­vided. If you see a mis­take, con­tact your in­sur­ance com­pany and re­port a prob­lem.

If you know a thief used your med­i­cal in­for­ma­tion, get copies of your records. Fed­eral law gives you the right to know what’s in your med­i­cal files. Check them for er­rors. Con­tact each doc­tor, clinic, hos­pi­tal, phar­macy, lab­o­ra­tory, health plan, and lo­ca­tion where a thief may have used your in­for­ma­tion. For ex­am­ple, if a thief got a pre­scrip­tion in your name, ask for records from the health care provider who wrote the pre­scrip­tion and the phar­macy that filled it.

You may need to pay for copies of your records. If you know when the thief used your in­for­ma­tion, ask for records from just that time. Keep copies of your postal and email cor­re­spon­dence, and a record of your phone calls, con­ver­sa­tions and ac­tiv­i­ties with your health plan and med­i­cal providers.

A provider might refuse to give you copies of your med­i­cal or billing records be­cause it thinks that would vi­o­late the iden­tity thief’s pri­vacy rights. The fact is - you have the right to know what’s in your file. If a provider de­nies your re­quest for your records, you have a right to ap­peal.

Photo: Agnes Ha­gin

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