Your medical records are among the most essential documents in your life. After all, they’re specifically used by doctors to help protect your life. That’s why it’s such a problem when your records are damaged by medical identity theft. People who use your information to get healthcare services can permanently affect your own healthcare.
You can fix your records and resolve the fraud, though. It takes some work, but you can reclaim your identity and protect your health. Keep reading to learn what medical identity theft is, why it happens, and how you can fix it.
What Is Medical Identity Theft?
Medical identity theft takes place when someone else uses your identifying information to get healthcare. That can include seeing doctors, getting prescriptions, submitting insurance claims, and any other healthcare procedure. It’s considered just as dangerous as any other type of identity fraud because it can have a dramatic impact on your finances and health alike.
Why? Because your doctors and insurance rely on your medical records to make informed decisions about your future healthcare needs. If someone else is getting treatment in your name, everything from your insurance costs to your quality of care will be affected. You’re likely to get worse care and pay more for it.
Reasons Behind Medical ID Theft
No two cases of medical identity fraud are the same. Unlike other kinds of identity fraud, it can happen entirely by accident. You may even be committing identity fraud without realizing it just by trying to help a family member.
There are three leading causes of this type of theft:
- Accidents: Sometimes there’s no “theft” involved. Suppose a healthcare professional accidentally swaps your records with someone else’s or writes down the wrong information. In that case, your identity can be “stolen” accidentally.
- Insurance sharing: Letting someone use your identity for insurance purposes isn’t legal. It’s actually a type of insurance fraud that can cause all the same record and healthcare complications as true theft. Even worse, it implicates you in the fraud, too.
- Fraud: Finally, there’s always a potential that someone commits actual theft. In these situations, someone uses the information they’ve stolen from you to get healthcare. This is typically malicious and intended to either siphon your insurance or acquire restricted medications.
How Medical Identify Theft Impacts You
Having your medical identity stolen can cause some major problems for your ability to get healthcare. Here’s how it can impact your health, your records, and your finances.
Incorrect Medical Records
The most immediate result of medical identity theft is its impact on your records. Your records are shared between different healthcare institutions. If someone is getting healthcare under your name, their care is going on your record. That can cause significant problems.
For example, your records will note that if someone goes to the doctor for pain medication in your name. If you need pain medication later, doctors will see the previous visit and may identify you as a drug seeker. That can have lifelong impacts on your ability to get certain medications and treatments if the fraud isn’t spotted.
Poorer Quality of Care
Your incorrect records have knock-on effects, too. It’s not just your ability to treat pain effectively. Consider what happens if someone using your name is diagnosed with a chronic illness. The next time you go to the doctor, their treatment of you will take that disease into consideration.
That can dramatically impact your quality of care. For example, the way doctors treat people with diabetes is very different from how they treat someone without it. You might receive the wrong amount of medication, you may be triaged differently, or your doctor may misdiagnose you based on the incorrect information.
Higher Medical Costs
If someone is using your identity to get healthcare, then their expenses will go on your insurance. Depending on your health coverage, that can have a significant impact on your own finances. For example, if your insurance includes a deductible, you could be asked to pay thousands of dollars for healthcare you didn’t receive.
What You Can Do About Medical Identity Theft
There are plenty of ways you can spot medical identity theft. You might get a bill from your insurance that you weren’t expecting. Your doctor may ask you about a new diagnosis or medication that you don’t actually have. You may just look at your records and notice something wrong. The question is what you should do after noticing it.
It’s easier than you might think. You can start resolving the fraud by taking these six steps.
- Get a copy of your medical records. When you have your complete records, you can identify the healthcare events that aren’t actually yours.
- File a police report. All kinds of identity theft are a crime. File a police report to start the legal trail against the person stealing your information.
- Contact your healthcare providers. Your providers can separate the fraudulent health information into a different file through a “John Doe file extraction.” This information will no longer immediately appear in your record.
- Contact your insurance. Your insurance company doesn’t want to pay for extra care any more than you do. They can help you navigate the process of clarifying your actual care or at least freeze your account.
- Notify your employer and pharmacy. Your health can impact your employment. Let your employer know that you’re dealing with fraud to ensure the thief’s health information doesn’t impact your job. Meanwhile, let your pharmacy know that you’re dealing with fraud to ensure that the thief doesn’t access your medications.
- Get a lawyer. You may run into problems getting your records sorted out. If the fraud has been going on for a while, you will need legal help to get your records fixed, and your insurance settled. Working with the right attorney gives you the support you need to resolve the issue quickly.
Protect Your Healthcare
Your medical records are essential, and you should protect them. If someone’s stolen your information and gets healthcare in your name, your records and care are being hurt. You need to take immediate action to reclaim your identity and fix your records. Get started today by reaching out to a qualified medical record attorney to discuss your case and your options.