Don’t be a victim of medical identity theft. Fraudsters using your ID can cause medical errors and mistakes that could cost you your life. You could also end up paying too much for your medical care, and be denied life insurance policies because your records make you look much sicker than you are.
Medicaid and Medicare fraud occur every year, at an estimated cost of $230 million to taxpayers and Medicare beneficiaries. Fraud has always existed in every insurance chain, whether private plans like Blue Cross Blue Shield or Medicare and Medicaid.
Medicare and Medicaid, however, are the easiest for fraudsters to use to gain monies they aren’t entitled to, for services not performed, for equipment never received, and for drugs at the pharmacy.
Electronic medical records are meant to reduce medical and medication errors, but they have also made it easier for fraudsters to steal information, make a patient look sicker or older than they are, and to up payments to pharmacies, doctors, and for fraud rings to gain illicit monies from your personal information.
Here’s how you can help prevent fraud against Medicare and Medicaid and save your credit, too:
- Read your statements of benefits that you receive. Medicare sends them about every three months; some private plans send them every month. Check for services you did not receive or medical equipment you don’t need or never received.
- Ask for your records at the pharmacy. Look to see if the pharmacist filled your prescriptions as 4 weekly prescriptions, or a single, 30-day supply. This raises the amount of money the pharmacy is paid for these drugs when they are filled as weekly prescriptions.
- Order a copy of your credit report from all three bureaus. You are entitled to one free report each year from all three reporting companies. Look for entities you don’t recognize, make sure your Social Security number, age and address are correct. Look for charges to companies, as well as enquiries on your report from companies you’ve never done business with. This is a sign that fraudsters have stolen your information. They may even use your identity to obtain medical care for themselves in order to obtain narcotics and other drugs.
- Get copies of all your medical records. Check if there are any charges there that are improper. Doctor’s offices have 30 days to get your records together for you. If you are refused copies, call the HIPPA agency listed on your doctor’s intake forms, or the patient advocate, or the ombudsman in your state.