In a report on patient privacy published in 2014, cyber-attacks on health care facilities increased 100 percent over a four-year period.
Your health care record may no longer be safe. Health care identity theft can take several forms. Imposter patients may use your health care information to obtain treatment or expensive procedures.
In one instance, a health insurer billed a man for a $19,000 medical helicopter evacuation. The problem was, this man never took that ride.
Many times, thieves perpetrate these frauds against Medicare recipients with stolen Social Security numbers. Alternatively, if your provider has an employee who illegally shares your medical information, that information can end up almost anywhere. Additionally, medical facilities are frequent victims of data breaches, and your medical information may become available on the black market.
With these facts in mind, take the following steps to protect your medical information.
- Always review each Explanation of Benefits (EOB) you receive.
- Watch for any inconsistent information in your medical record.
- If you believe thieves may have compromised your medical history, order copies of your medical records. Dispute any inconsistency. Immediately file a written challenge of any charges you do not understand or any procedure you did not undergo. Copy your health insurer.
- Request a copy of the “accounting of disclosures” from your health care providers. This discloses who received copies of your records from that provider. Your provider should provide you one free copy every year.
- Access the Federal Trade Commission’s website for more information about access to your medical records and your rights as a patient.