CHICAGO--Gaps in the HIPAA privacy rule may not extend to medical identity theft protection.
Therefore, consumers must take precautions to safeguard and monitor their health information in order to protect themselves against possible financial ruin and health record fraud caused by medical identity theft, according to an article published in the October 2008 issue of the Journal of AHIMA.
Medical identity theft's rising crime rate could have a devastating effect due to the incorrect information that may be entered into the health records of victimized patients exposing them to improper and potentially life-threatening treatment.
Raising awareness of medical identity theft explains that because the face of health information is changing in this electronic era, it is imperative for health-care consumers to protect and monitor their health information with the same degree of diligence used to protect their financial information.
What consumers can do to protect themselves
AHIMA's electronic health information management work group on medical identity theft recommends that consumers follow the following seven preventive measures:
1. Share health and financial information only with trusted individuals, including providers
2. Monitor benefits paid by health insurers
3. Contact the insurer about charges for care not rendered
4. Maintain copies of health records for comparison
5. Check personal credit history for medical liens
6. Safeguard health insurance information including insurance cards, explanations of benefits and correspondence
7. Refuse to provide insurance information to solicitors
This story also provides insight on the privacy risks associated with personal health records.
Read the complete article in the October 2008 issue of the Journal of AHIMA or online at Journal of AHIMA.
For more information about the American Health Information Management Association, go to American Health Information Management Association.
To read more about medical identity theft, go to identity theft.
To comment on this topic, go to identity theft.