Saturday, June 13, 2009

Identity theft can kill you?

Yep. How so? Well, first, medical ID theft is a growing problem. Here's a fascinating report on this undercovered problem:

It turns out that doctors and nurses with a drug problem make fake entries in patient files to justify prescriptions that they fill for themselves. Medicare and Medicaid fraudsters concoct entire courses of treatment for real people and bill for them. And illegal immigrants who wouldn't be eligible for services on their own use the identities they've already stolen to get jobs as a way of getting treatment.

That's bad, but what's especially troubling for ordinary citizens is the way it screws up their medical records. They may only find out about the fraud when they're told they've used up the lifetime health insurance limits they paid for. Or, worse, they could go in for treatment unconscious and be given a transfusion of the wrong blood type because their records had been altered to match the blood type of the identity thief. That's a pretty heavy price to pay for identity theft. And it's likely to get worse as the Administration's electronic medical record initiative takes hold, and medical records are increasingly consolidated into a single electronic patient history that is accessible by all providers.

HIPAA, perhaps unsurprisingly, is more or less useless in addressing the problem. The privacy advocates who helped draft it were so busy abusing pharmaceutical companies and insurers that they evidently didn't have time to think about privacy violations that might kill us.

1 comment:

Steve Cabouli said...

Being a victim of identity theft is one of the most feared nightmare i have ever faced in my life. I became a victim of identity theft when i lost my wallet while i was traveling. When i lost my wallet i lost my social security no, driving license, credit cards along with liquid cash. Now i can understand the pain of identity theft victims around the world.