According to a study done by The Ponemon Institure, medical identify theft increased by 22 percent in 2014. Thisis the fifth survey the institute has done regarding medical identity theft. They estimate that more than 2.3 million adult Americans became victims during or before 2014.
Undoing Medical Identity Theft
Once medical identity theft has been done, it’s very difficult to un-do. Essentially, the thief’s medical records get tangled with the victim’s medical record. Every time a thief uses personal information, such as names, birth dates, Social Security Numbers or the ID numbers found on insurance cards, to obtain services and prescriptions, that information gets added to the victim’s health record. That can go unnoticed for months, or even years. On average, according to the study, the average victim didn’t learn about the identity theft until three months after it happened. And 30% of victims didn’t have any of idea of when the theft even occurred.
Because there are so many privacy laws in place that prevent the release of health information, the problem can be difficult to fix. It’s often very hard for victims to prove they didn’t actually receive the treatment that their medical records say they did. As a result, some victims end up paying the fraudulent bills they are charged with. Roughly 65% of the respondents tot he study reported they were left paying for the bills charged by the thief. The average cost of those bills was $13,453.