Government Technology

    Digital Communities
    Industry Members

  • Click sponsor logos for whitepapers, case studies, and best practices.
  • McAfee

Tackling Medical Identity Theft


February 8, 2008 By

Because of identity theft's prevalence, most of us have taken steps to protect ourselves - thanks to fears instilled from the horror stories of those who've been victimized.

But what about when someone hacks into a health facility, steals medical records and uses medical identification (ID) numbers to get health benefits?

Apparently few of us are concerned something like this will happen. We ignore the explanation of benefits from our health insurers, according to the World Privacy Forum, whose recent study, Medical Identity Theft: The Information Crime that Can Kill You, states that we should be looking closely.

Approximately 250,000 patients each year - or more, as some estimates reach higher - have their medical IDs stolen. The crooks use stolen identities to gain medical services or fraudulently bill private health insurers and government health-care programs.

If that isn't scary enough for you, consider this: The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association estimates that medical ID theft represents 1 percent of health-care fraud, totaling about $600 million in losses per year.

In the last decade, the number of identity theft cases have skyrocketed, and medical ID theft appears to be a segment of it that's growing too.

But the proper authorities haven't addressed it yet.

It's a shame more than 40 million Americans are without health insurance. And even more shameful is that some of the uninsured have resorted to stealing someone else's medical information to get the services they need.

But it's not just the uninsured or the two-bit drug dealer doing the stealing. There are documented cases of organized groups targeting physician identification numbers and manipulating million-dollar ripoffs of the health-care system.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act is supposed to provide a shield of sorts for our private medical data. Ironically it doesn't. In fact, it can work against a victim trying to correct a medical record that has been changed by an imposter.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is developing four prototypes for a National Health Information Network to make health records available electronically in real time to caregivers.

The Government Accountability Office has noted "significant weaknesses" in the information security controls used for Medicare and Medicaid claims processing. The World Privacy Forum says a National Health Information Network must include significant safeguards.

With few mechanisms available to protect the medical records of patients, the HHS needs to consider the ramifications of a national system that makes medical identity theft even easier than it is now.


| More

Comments

Add Your Comment

You are solely responsible for the content of your comments. We reserve the right to remove comments that are considered profane, vulgar, obscene, factually inaccurate, off-topic, or considered a personal attack.

In Our Library

White Papers | Exclusives Reports | Webinar Archives | Best Practices and Case Studies
Digital Cities & Counties Survey: Best Practices Quick Reference Guide
This Best Practices Quick Reference Guide is a compilation of examples from the 2013 Digital Cities and Counties Surveys showcasing the innovative ways local governments are using technological tools to respond to the needs of their communities. It is our hope that by calling attention to just a few examples from cities and counties of all sizes, we will encourage further collaboration and spark additional creativity in local government service delivery.
Wireless Reporting Takes Pain (& Wait) out of Voting
In Michigan and Minnesota counties, wireless voting via the AT&T network has brought speed, efficiency and accuracy to elections - another illustration of how mobility and machine-to-machine (M2M) technology help governments to bring superior services and communication to constituents.
Why Would a City Proclaim Their Data “Open by Default?”
The City of Palo Alto, California, a 2013 Center for Digital Government Digital City Survey winner, has officially proclaimed “open” to be the default setting for all city data. Are they courageous or crazy?
View All