Medical identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information without your knowledge or consent to obtain, or receive payment for, medical treatment, services, or goods. Victims of medical identity theft may find that their medical records are inaccurate, which can have a serious impact on their ability to obtain proper medical care and insurance benefits.
To detect medical identity theft, consider the following steps:
- Closely monitor any “Explanation of Benefits” sent by public or private health insurers. If anything appears wrong, raise questions with the insurer or the provider. Do not assume that there are no problems simply because you may not owe any money.
- Once a year (or more often, if you believe there is cause for concern), request a listing of benefits paid in your name by any health insurers that might have made such payments on your behalf.
- Monitor your credit reports with the nationwide credit reporting companies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – to identify reports of medical debts.
- The right to request copies of your current medical files from each health care provider.
- The right to have your medical records amended to remove inaccurate or incomplete information.
- The right to an accounting of disclosures – a record of who has been given access to your medical records – from your health care providers and health insurers. This is very important in tracking down where inaccurate information may have been sent.
- The right to file a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights at the federal Department of Health and Human Services if a health care provider does not comply with these rights. In addition, many hospitals have ombudsmen or patient advocates who may be able to help you obtain medical records or provide access to information.