insurance

How to avoid health care fraud

Medical identity theft
Medical identity theft © Jo Ann Snover/Shutterstock.com

Ohio authorities report they've indicted a man for using a fraudulent identity to obtain $345,000 in medical treatment from The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. The man used a stolen license multiple times in order to get services from 2008 to 2013, according to news media reports.

Medical identity theft is one of the most serious and fastest-growing crimes in the nation. Some sources say the damages run as high as $234 billion. Some 1.85 million Americans were affected by medical identity theft in 2012, according to a study by the Ponemon Institute.

Jeff Young, vice president of fraud control at Verisk Health, says you should guard your health care insurance information as carefully as you do banking data. "Protect it, don't carry it around and report it immediately if you lose it," says Young.

If you become the victim of medical ID theft, your credit can be ruined, you can find erroneous treatment information on your records and creditors will hound you to pay for treatment never received.

How to spot it: Again, check your explanation of benefits and follow up immediately on treatment you know you didn't receive. Keep copies of all of your medical records.

What to do: Contact your insurance company.

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