Even if you only watch or read the news sporadically, you know that identity theft is an ongoing problem in the United States. About one in 20 Americans are impacted by identity theft each year, most often financially, as thieves open credit cards or spend money under someone else’s name.
But fraudsters and bad actors aren’t just after your financial identity. They’re also on the lookout for something of much greater value: your medical identity. This is when someone obtains your health insurance information—sometimes through software breaches, sometimes by other means—and poses as you to use it.
We don’t often think about the consequences attached to medical identity theft, but the truth is they can be devastating to your finances and your health. Over 44 million medical records were breached in 2021 alone, meaning at least 44 million people had their medical identities compromised.
Are you one of them? Do you know what it could cost you?
Your medical identity is far more valuable to criminals.
Your medical identity is attached to your health insurance. Like it or not, health insurance is the primary way that we obtain and pay for healthcare in the United States. If you don’t have health insurance, you are likely looking at outrageously high medical bills even for small procedures. People are willing to go to great lengths to get the healthcare they need.
The result? Once it’s on the black market, your medical identity is worth 20-50 times more than your financial identity.
It’s more expensive.
There are stopgaps in place to help prevent financial identity theft. Yes, it happens, but generally your bank is alerted to the problem quickly. They can put a stop on checks and credit transactions as soon as they happen, as well as cancel credit cards and eventually refund you any money that you’ve lost.
Medical identity theft is harder to spot. Because treatments and procedures are described in shorthand diagnostic codes, your medical bills and Explanations of Benefits are difficult to interpret. Unfortunately, that’s where most evidence of the crime lives, and as a result it can be months before the wrongdoing is noticed.
Because it goes on longer, a thief has more opportunities to use it, racking up large medical bills that may eventually go to you—more than half of all medical identity theft victims end up paying over $13,000 in fraudulent medical bills.
If someone steals your financial identity and goes on a spending spree, you will face financial damage. If someone steals your medical identity and receives treatments and diagnoses that change your patient record, you could be in mortal danger.
For example, if you have diabetes and a medical identity thief does not, their health information can effectively overwrite yours. If you wind up in the hospital, a doctor may look at your inaccurate chart and prescribe treatments and medications that will be harmful instead of helpful. They may even prove fatal.
You can protect yourself.
How can you tell if your medical identity has been stolen? By carefully monitoring every bill and Explanation of Benefits you receive. Better yet, let someone else do the heavy lifting.
The team at HealthLock is ready to put years of expertise in the health industry to work for you. Our powerful AI technology will audit your medical bills, and if we see anything suspicious, we can flag it and investigate it. If our suspicions turn into an indication of medical identity theft, we can help you put a stop to the theft and recover any damages.
Your medical identity is precious. Make sure it’s locked down.