Why You Should Be More Worried About Medical Fraud
We’ve all experienced the annoyance of a compromised password or credit card at some point in our lives. Hackers are abundant and they’re brilliant, and they can think of new ways to steal from you seemingly faster than the powers that be think of ways to secure your data. But when a password is stolen, you simply change it. When a card is compromised, you report it, cancel it, and get a new card in the mail a few days later. In most cases, you don’t have to pay anything out-of-pocket. While it’s definitely annoying, it isn’t going to ruin your life.
Medical fraud, on the other hand, can make much more of a negative impact on your credit and your finances. And unfortunately, it’s on the rise.
According to Insurance Journal, the amount of cyber attacks on medical records had risen from 20 percent to 40 percent in the four-year period from 2009 to 2013, and experts are already indicating that there are more attacks this year than last.
Why The Increase?
The new Insurance Journal report lays blame for the increase on the outdated computer systems that most medical care providers use. Patient records are often stored on Windows-based machines that haven’t seen an update in around a decade. This makes it incredibly easy for hackers to break in, steal your data, and then file false claims with an insurance company. As the unpaid out-of-pocket builds up and debts are sent to collections, the creditors come knocking on your door, and that’s a tougher predicament to get out of than simply canceling a credit card.
What Can You Do To Stop Or Contain Medical Fraud?
When you get any type of correspondence from your health insurance company, open it up and review, especially your Statement of Benefits as this will explain what procedures were provided, how much the insurance company paid, and how much you might still owe. Waive the red flag on any so-called “free” medical treatments — they’re generally scams — and hold on to your medical ID card for dear life. Don’t share the information with anyone and keep it in a safe place accessible only to you and maybe a trusted family member.
Above all, if you can’t stop the fraud from happening, take steps to contain it by reporting suspicious activity at once. Contact your insurance company first and foremost, not only because they’re the ones paying out claim money, but also because they usually keep a treasure trove of resources for other agencies that can help you regain control of your medical information. As a Blue Cross Blue Shield customer myself, one quick look over the Report Fraud page shows links to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Federal Trade Commission, and more.
Computers aren’t going anywhere; unfortunately, that emboldens hackers to hit all of us at our most vulnerable. Since medical data can be much more valuable than credit card information, this area is one deserving of your immediate attention. Keep tabs on all your doctor visits. Pore over the bills you get in the mail. Ask for itemized statements. And through it all, make sure that your insurer is made aware of any and all data that seems out of whack. Only by attacking the problem at its choke point can we hope to reverse the growing tide of medical fraud throughout the country.