Make sure you know where your health insurance card is at all times.
In 2010, the Javelin Strategy and Research company found that 7% of all reported identity fraud had their insurance card stolen. This number seems to be on the rise.
What is Medical Identity Theft?
Medical identity theft occurs when someone (other than you) obtains your information such as your health insurance identification, social security number, and your name and then uses this information to acquire medications, medical care or other valuable medical equipment. A medical identity thief could also steal your health insurance card and use the information on the card. If you are the victim of a stolen EHIC card then you need to take immediate action.
Items such as electric wheelchairs and other expensive medical equipment can be bought illegally using fraud via the fraudulent insurance claim. Then, these valuable pieces of medical equipment can be sold to people looking for these types of equipment on the black market.
In 2013, a survey found that approximately 1.84 million Americans were the victims of identity theft. This number had increased by almost 20% in just one year.
The Usual Suspects
Unfortunately, the sad reality is that the most common perpetrators are the people you think you should be able to trust. The people most likely to commit this type of fraud are people that work in the healthcare industry or even your very own relatives. According to survey results from the Medical Identity Fraud Alliance, more than 50% of victims had had their identity stolen from someone they knew. Insiders working at healthcare facilities also have access to your sensitive and personal information. Some medical identity thieves working at these facilities use your information to acquire valuable pharmaceutical drugs or equipment and then sell it to make a profit.
How to Protect Yourself
Having your personal data stolen can feel awful. Naturally, you will want to protect yourself from this happening. But you can’t keep all your information secret, because you need to share this information if you’re going to get your healthcare. So, how can you protect yourself from this medical identity fraud?
Always keep a close eye on your social security number. Make sure you know where your medical insurance card is at all times. If you need to give your personal information to your insurance company (which you will have to do), then you should ask them to clarify exactly how they will use this information.
Whenever you receive a medical bill, insurance statement or even a label for a prescription drug; you should shred the paperwork. Keep nothing lying around that contains any of your personal and sensitive information.
How do you know if your Medical Identity has been Stolen?
Read the EOB statement issued form your insurance company. The EOB statement is the Explanation of Benefits and will detail all the claims made and the movement of your insurance claim(s). Examine each one, and if you see anything strange or unfamiliar, you should follow up with your insurance company. Always be vigilant over your information, and you will be able to detect fraud almost immediately.