The Corner

Medical Identity Theft and Obamacare

Most identity theft in the United States is medical-related, according to a recent report from the Identity Theft Resource Center. The survey was released even as certain aspects of Obamacare enrollment have raised concerns about identity theft and consumer privacy.

The Center defines medical identity theft as “the fraudulent use of an individual’s personally identifiable information, such as name, Social Security number, and/or medical insurance identity number to obtain medical goods or services, or to fraudulently bill for medical goods or services using an unlawfully obtained medical identity,” also noting that it “has profound consequences for patients, insurance providers and health care providers.”

In 2012 alone, medical identity theft increased by nearly 25 percent, affecting 1.85 million Americans, according to another recent report from the Ponemon Institute, which researches privacy issues.

Michael Ollove, a reporter for Stateline, noted that 43 percent of identity-theft incidents in the United States are medical-related, “a far greater chunk than identity thefts involving banking and finance, the government and the military, or education. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says that since it started keeping records in 2009, the medical records of between 27.8 million and 6.7 million people have been breached.”

Regardless, as many as 31 states do not conduct background checks on Obamacare navigators, who have access to enrollees’ names, Social Security numbers, financial records, and health information. A recent NR report found that in California, at least 43 navigators approved by the state health exchange had prior convictions, including for forgery and welfare fraud.

Clearly, there’s enormous risk that consumers’ confidential information could fall into the wrong hands. Without more oversight, expect even more dramatic statistics by next year.

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