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MARYCAIN
12-16-2006, 04:55 PM
Read an interesting but worrying article online about medical identity theft - people using your name or insurance info to get medical care - apparently it's a much bigger problem than I realized. My doctor is bad about sticking charts into those pockets on the door of his exam rooms, and I'll bet a lot of doctors do the same thing - not to mention how many billers have access to your information. The article gives some tips on how to pretect yourself. I am really careful about financial info, but I never thought about protecting my insurance card.

www.rd.com/content/openContent.do?contentId=30232&pageIndex=0

mnjodette
12-16-2006, 05:23 PM
That's so scary. My insurer sends out explanation of benefits forms that have in very big letters on page 1 "STOP INSURANCE FRAUD". I read those things, and I also try to read the statements I get from the clinic and hospital. But it can be overwhelming - I've had nearly $60,000 in medical expenses in the past 8 months. That's a lot of line items. To stop this kind of crime, due diligence needs to be practiced by the insurance companies, the health care industry and the consumer. Progress has been made in slowing regular ID theft, and this needs the same kind of attention.

I work in the financial counseling field and I'm going to find some good printed material on this subject that we can have available for our clients. We serve more than 10,000 people a year - if it helps just one it'll be worth it.

Thanks, Marycain.

MARYCAIN
12-16-2006, 06:11 PM
I always get itemized statements from all my health care providers and look them over to make sure they match with what the EOBs state. I've found glaring errors - things that were charged that I never received (like penicillin, which I happen to be allergic to, so I know it wasn't mine) but I've always assumed they were honest mistakes. Like you, I have thousands of dollars in medical bills every year, over and above what my insurance pays, so I itemize and deduct them on my taxes, which helps some.

One thing I learned doing criminal defense work is, if you are expecting a child, don't put a birth announcement in any of the papers, because most birth announcements give someone all the information they would need to steal your child's identity. It may also make you a target for other criminals. And children are being targeted for identity theft because people can get away with it more easily. So when the children go to get their first job or apply for college loans, a lot of them find their credit rating is already in the toilet. I always tell people to monitor their own credit report, and their childrens too. It's sad that people have to be so paranoid, but it's better to be safe. So if your counseling clients aren't doing this because they are trying to avoid using credit, you might want to make them aware of how it important it is - that's how I found out that someone had opened a credit card account using my name and SSN - I never got any bills because the address on the account was in New Mexico, but it took me a lot of time and hassle to get it removed from my credit report.