A Twist on Identity Theft Makes Medical Information Vulnerable July 14, 2010.

Just when you thought your identity might be safe, along comes a new twist. Medical identity theft is quite prevalent these days.

If you stop to think about it, it’s more than possible for thieves to use your health insurance information to get medical care, surgery and even prescription drugs. Frightening thought, but it’s not only possible; it’s a reality and I’ve seen it during my practice as a Cleveland medical malpractice lawyer.

Lately there have been more and more cases of rip-off artists working in a medical milieu using "your" personal information to fraudulently bill insurance companies. This not only impacts on you financially, but it directly affects your health for the services you are "not" getting or didn’t get.

How in the heck do you know if someone pinched your identity and then used it to get medical services? Apparently, there are some red flags to be aware of and they include things like receiving a statement for medical services you didn’t get; you are denied insurance because your medical records say you have a disease you don’t have; you get dunning phone calls from a bill collector about medical bills you don’t owe; you go to file a legit health insurance claim and the plan tells you that you have maxed out your benefits, or when you call for a copy of your credit report, there are medical collection notices on it that are completely strange to you.

Think this doesn’t affect you? Think again, because the theft may change all of your medical and health insurance records. What happens here is that each time the con artist uses "your" identity to get medical care, a record of that treatment etc., is created with the thief’s medical info. The dangerous thing here is that the "thief’s" info could provide the wrong blood type, the wrong allergies, state you abuse alcohol (and you don’t drink), have an inaccurate diagnosis for a condition you don’t have and show test results for tests you never had either. If you ever are the victim of medical malpractice, you would need to consult with a Cleveland malpractice lawyer to sort this mess out and find justice.

The dangerous results here could be that the "real you" may get the wrong treatment based on those false record entries which could mean the real you is injured, becomes ill or may die as the result of a wrong treatment or drug. How in the world do you avoid this?

While there is no totally fool proof way to avoid this type of scam, there are some things you might want to consider doing. For instance, don’t share your personal or medical information on the phone or by mail unless you know 100% who you are talking to when you give out that information. Try to stay away from offers that say they will give you free health products or services and then ask for your health plan ID number.

There have been many cases of unscrupulous cons pretending they work for an insurance company or pharmacy or doctor’s office and people will fall for it, giving out their medical information, etc. What happens once the thief has your identity and health plan info is that they send in false claims for things like Medicare reimbursement.

If you happen to have copies of your medical information and identification lying around, lock them up. If you are about to throw out medical papers, shred them. If you are asked while you are online to provide your social security number or insurance account info or other personal details, ask why it’s needed, where that information is going and who sees it. Check the site’s privacy policies and as best as you can, stay safe and hold on to your personal and very private information that is no one else’s business. If you have any questions about medical malpractice claims or medical identity theft, speak to an experienced Cleveland malpractice lawyer.