Medical Identity Theft on the Rise
Medical identity theft and fraud are rising as more private patient data is put online without adequate security measures. Not only are patients being billed for treatments they never received, medical records are being altered in ways that can have life-threatening consequences. In the most recent survey conducted by the Identity Theft Resource Center, medical identity theft was reported by 21.4% of the survey respondents and often discovered when a patient receives a bill for a service they never received.
According to the Medical Identity Fraud Alliance, medical identity information – including insurance numbers and SSNs – is 20 to 50 times more valuable to criminals than financial identities. Fraudsters use the identities to bill for services and equipment that are never provided, receiving reimbursements from private insurance and Medicare and Medicaid or causing financial loss directly to a patient.
As methods for perpetrating medical identity theft become more and more sophisticated and electronic access to personal health information becomes more common, the tactics selected by practices, hospitals, and payers to protect personal health information and ensure patient safety are evolving.
Health Information Exchanges (HIE) and electronic medical record systems should maintain security by first proofing the identity through knowledge-based authentication (KBA) or similar methods. Once the patient’s identity is successfully established, HIEs can then enroll or bind the proofed identity to a biometric or token authentication factor for subsequent transactions. Improving patient portal security will go a long way toward mitigating medical identity theft.
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