If you bank, shop, or do just about anything online, you’re probably aware of the risk of identity theft. But what about medical identity theft? This new form of identity theft is on the rise and can create major problems for you and your family.
What is medical identity theft? Medical identity theft is when a person steals your information to receive medical treatment and insurance benefits. By accessing your health insurance information, someone can fraudulently obtain medical services by posing as you, while you get stuck with the bill.
According to research done by the Ponemon Institute, about 2.3 million Americans were victims of medical identity theft last year. That rate has nearly doubled since 2010.
Because their are limits on how much a victim of credit card theft will pays, a victim of regular identity theft often doesn’t have to pay for a thief’s shopping spree. But victims of medical identity theft often end up paying thousands out of pocket to pay off their thief’s medical treatment or hiring a lawyer. On average, victims paid out over $13,000 to resolve a medical identity theft issue.
So how can you protect yourself? Here are four ways you can stop your medical identity from being stolen and how to know if it’s happened.
1. Leave Your Insurance Card at Home.
Most people carry their health insurance cards around in their wallet, along with their driver’s license and credit cards. But if you lose your wallet, that information can be used to steal your medical identity. Keep your insurance card in a safe place at home and only take it with you to medical appointments. It might be a bit of a hassle to remember to bring it with you, but not as big as a hassle as trying to resolve medical identity theft.
2. Read Over Every Statement.
It’s tempting just to file away those Explanation of Benefits forms you get in the mail without reading them, but don’t. They’re your first clue in spotting a medical identity theft. Give them a quick glance to make sure whatever is on your statement is for treatment you’ve actually received.
3. Don’t share your information.
Don’t give your insurance information to anyone other than a doctor or hospital. Fill out doctor’s forms in a private location. Never give your health insurance or Medicare information over the phone.
4. Watch for signs of medical identity theft.
If you get a bill or benefits statement for a treatment that doesn’t sound familiar, ask your medical provider for a copy of your medical records. Be sure to ask for them to include an “accounting of disclosures,” which details who they’ve shared information with. Watch out for warnings from your insurance company that you’ve reached your benefit limit or that you’ve been denied treatment for fraud. All of these are signs that your medical identity may have been compromised.
If you’re worried about medical identity theft, a legal insurance plan can help put you at ease. A legal insurance plan that covers identity theft issues, like Texas Legal, can help you resolve a problem if you become a victim. Protect yourself from dealing with the hassles of identity theft through a legal insurance plan, and put your mind at ease that the identity thieves won’t have the last word.