Author: Kevin Renner / Source: Corporate Wellness Magazine
Anndorie Cromar was in her thirties when Utah’s child protective services called to report that her newborn daughter had tested positive for methamphetamine. And because of that, she was at risk of having the state take custody of her children.
But the mother of four hadn’t given birth recently to anyone. Someone had stolen her health insurance information and delivered a baby girl.
The ordeal took years to straighten out. She was never able to fully settle the hospital bill. Medical privacy regulations prohibited her from viewing her own medical records because they contained the thief’s information. She had to go to court to remove her name from the baby’s birth certificate. And the child continues showing up on her pharmacy records as a dependent.
“To this day, I don’t know if my name is in the baby’s medical record,” she notes.
She is not alone. Nikki Burton was 17 when she was turned away as a blood donor because the Red Cross showed her as HIV positive. Except she wasn’t. Her insurance information had been stolen and used by someone else to obtain medical care. It took six years to clear that diagnosis from her medical record.
The two women are victims of the fastest growing form of identity crime in America—medical identity fraud. It is perpetrated by criminals whose motives are simple: To make money. Various estimates put the value of medical identities at 10 to 20 times that of credit card and social security numbers.
For employers that take seriously the holistic wellbeing of employees, medical identity theft is an emerging, serious threat. It is growing at about 15 percent a year, and victimizes more than 2.3 million American adults annually, according to the Ponemon Institute. The end results include disrupted lives and billions of dollars in fraudulent bills and recovery costs for victims and employers alike—an expense absorbed directly by self-insured employers.
The Ponemon research highlights some of the other costs of medical identity theft, among them:
- Personal costs exceed $5,000 for 29 percent of the victims.
- For 41 percent of victims, it consumed more than 100 hours to remedy the problem
- More than six months were required to resolve the problem for 86 percent of victims.
But medical identity theft also poses a serious risk to employee health. Corrupted medical records put lives at risk, as allergies, medications, and problem list no longer match one’s true health profile.
|Medical identity theft has rightly been called the privacy crime that can kill. When a victim’s identity is used fraudulently… medical records become contaminated with erroneous information such as…|
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