And (it seems) organized criminal are getting involved in the activity, probably because it's a "profitable" enterprise with little danger of getting caught.
BusinessWeek online did an interesting article about this, where they said:
Yet the thief isn't always an individual desperately needing medical care. In some instances, the perpetrator can be a doctor hoping to pad his or her income by filing fraudulent claims. Even worse, law enforcement authorities say that more and more frauds are being perpetrated by organized crime rings who steal dozens, and sometimes thousands, of medical records, as well as the billing codes for doctors. The rings then set up fake medical clinics—offering free health screenings as a ruse to draw in patients—that submit bogus bills to insurers, collect payments for a few months, and then disappear before the insurers realize they've been had. (Dixon notes that health records now fetch $50 to $60 each on the black market, vs. a mere 7 cents for stolen résumés.)BusinessWeek online article, here.
The BusinessWeek article quotes Pam Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Forum, and rightfully so. The World Privacy Forum (to the best of my knowledge) was the first to call out this growing problem and has done quite a bit of work to determine the extent of it.
They have an entire page devoted to it on their site, here. I highly recommend it for anyone, who is, or might become a victim of this growing trend.
Based on their research, they have presented some key recommendations:
- Individuals’ rights to correct errors in their medical histories and files need to be expanded to allow them to remove false information from their files.
- Victims of medical identity theft should have the right to receive one free copy of their medical file.
- Individuals should have expanded rights to obtain an accounting of disclosures of health information.
- Notification of medical data breaches to consumers has the potential to save lives, protect health, and prevent losses.
- All working prototypes for the National Health Information Network need comprehensive risk assessments focused on preventing medical identity theft while protecting patient privacy.
The World Privacy Forum has also presented their finding to several government agencies, including the FTC.
This problem goes beyond the financial implications of identity fraud because it could cause great harm to victims, who have had erroneous medical information put in their medical histories. People could be improperly diagnosed, which might (in an extreme case) lead to their demise.
I did a previous post:
Since the Federal Identity Theft Task Force is soliciting information from the public - this would be an appropriate place for someone to voice their thoughts (recommendations) about medical identity theft.