Article Examines Impact of Medical Identity Theft, What Hospitals Are Doing to Prevent It

August 12, 2015 | Strategic Insights for Health System


Healthcare risk managers may be interested in an August 7, 2015, Wall Street Journal article that discusses the increase in medical identity theft and its impact on patients' lives. According to the article, medical identity theft affected 2.3 million adult patients in 2014 compared with 1.4 million in 2009, and one survey found that 65% of victims reported they spent an average of $13,500 to restore credit, pay healthcare providers for fraudulent claims, and correct inaccuracies in their health records. When an identity thief's health information (e.g., blood type, allergies, medical conditions) is co-mingled with a patient victim's information, not only does the patient risk receiving potentially dangerous diagnoses or treatments, but once the theft is discovered, the patient also risks being locked out of his or her medical record because some providers incorrectly believe that the thief's health data is protected by healthcare privacy laws. The article mentions that, unlike in financial identity theft, medical identity-theft victims can remain responsible for payments because there is no healthcare equivalent of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which limits consumers' monetary losses when their credit information is stolen.

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