Physician Practice

Ponemon Institute study reveals 21.7% rise in medical identity theft

Physician Practice Insider, March 24, 2015

Medical identity theft has been on the rise for some time. In fact, medical identity theft incidents increased 21.7% between the Ponemon Institute’s 2014 survey and its “Fifth Annual Study on Medical Identity Theft” released in February. All respondents were victims of some form of identity theft, while 86% were victims of medical identity theft.

While fraudulent credit card charges are often remedied by credit card companies, medical identity theft can actually cost the insured party a considerable amount of money. More than half (65%) of those responding to the Ponemon Institute’s survey revealed that they paid an average of $13,500 to resolve the crime. These costs are typically related to paying a healthcare provider, repaying the insurer for services obtained by the thief, or paying for identity protection or legal counsel.

Respondents listed reimbursement for costs associated with preventing future damages as the action most important following a medical identity theft incident. Victims who sought to resolve medical identity theft crimes spent an average of 200 hours doing so, according to the study.

Just 37% of respondents reported that their healthcare providers informed them of ways to prevent medical identity theft. More than half (67%) of those respondents said they do not feel confident that these measures will keep their records secure. However, half of all respondents agree or strongly agree that they would find another provider if they were not confident in the security practices of a provider. Similarly, 47% said if they would find another provider if their records were stolen or they were concerned about record security.

This article originally appeared on the HIPAA Update blog.

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