Health Information Management

Healthcare staff frequent participants in medical identity theft

HIM-HIPAA Insider, September 1, 2008

Medical identity theft is on the rise, the Chicago Tribune reported August 22.
 
Between 250,000 and 500,000 people are victims of medical identity theft annually, Pam Dixon of the World Privacy Forum, a nonprofit organization that assists identity theft victims, told the newspaper.
 
“This is the fastest growing form of identity theft in America today,” James Quiggle, director of communications for the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud in Washington, told the newspaper. “With almost 50 million people considered uninsured today, medical identity theft may become a growing problem as more people become desperate enough to turn to crime to find treatments that they cannot otherwise get.”
 
Dixon said perpetrators are often workers in the healthcare industry. She cited as examples billing, housecleaning, and clerical workers at large hospitals who have access to confidential information. Some healthcare workers use the information themselves or give it to others to use fraudulently. Others sell the information to criminals, reportedly for $5 to $10 per name, Quiggle told the newspaper. Gangs sometimes collude with providers to fraudulently bill insurers millions of dollars for services never provided.
 
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