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Medical ID Theft on the Rise, Survey Finds

February 23, 2015
by Gabriel Perna
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Medical identity theft is on the rise, according to a new research study conducted by the Traverse City, Mich.-based Ponemon Institute, with incidents having risen 21.7 percent in one year.

The study, sponsored by the Medical Identity Fraud Alliance, surveyed more than 1,500 consumers on the rising tide of medical ID theft. What they found is that more people are being victimized by medical ID fraud, it’s complicated to resolve, it’s time-consuming, it’s costly, and consumers expect healthcare providers to do a better job in protecting their health data so that it doesn’t happen.

In 2014, there were almost 500,000 more victims than in 2013. Moreover, victims had to pay up when it happened. The average victim said it cost $13,500 to resolve the crime, including repaying the insurer for services obtained by the thief, paying the provider, and engaging an identity service provider or legal counsel. Due to the confusing nature of an incident, only 10 percent of those who were victimized felt they achieved a satisfactory conclusion of the incident.

Healthcare providers are to blame, say many of the victims. More than half blame their provider directly. Nearly 80 percent of the identity theft victims put the onus on healthcare providers to ensure the privacy of their health records. Nearly half would consider switching providers if their medical records were lost or stolen. Nearly everyone who was surveyed said that the provider should reimburse people whose medical record has been stolen.

The full report can be read here.

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