Medical identity theft affected two million victims in 2014

The number of patients affected by medical identity theft increased nearly 22 percent in the last year, an increase of nearly half a million victims since 2013.

In the five years since the survey by the Medical Identity Fraud Alliance began, the number of medical identity theft incidents has nearly doubled to more than two million victims.

Medical identity theft is a national healthcare issue with potential to cause life-threatening and hefty financial consequences for consumers. 65 percent of victims surveyed paid more than $13,000 out-of-pocket costs to resolve the crime.

“Given the high volume of medical records and personal information leaked by healthcare providers and payers, organizations are now more focused on reducing how much unprotected PHI they store and shrinking the target hackers go after so that fewer patients are exposed to the risks of medical identity fraud,” said Identity Finder CEO Todd Feinman. “Identity Finder was glad to participate in a study that explains what the implications of that unprotected data are for users—and the companies who provide services.”

Noteworthy takeaways and key findings from the report include:

Consumers expect healthcare providers to be proactive in preventing and detecting medical identity theft
Although respondents are not confident in the security practices of their healthcare provider, the vast majority (79 percent) of respondents expect their healthcare providers to ensure the privacy of their health records. Forty-eight percent say they would consider changing healthcare providers if their medical records were lost or stolen. If a breach does occur, 40 percent expect prompt notification to come from the responsible organization.

Resolution of medical identity theft is time consuming and may never occur
Due to HIPAA privacy regulations, victims of medical identity theft must be involved in resolution of the crime. In many cases, victims struggle to reach resolution following a medical identity theft incident. Only 10 percent of survey respondents reported achieving completely satisfactory conclusion of the incident. Many respondents remain at risk for further theft or errors in healthcare records that could jeopardize medical treatments and diagnosis.

Medical identity theft can cause embarrassment; negatively impact consumer confidence
Nearly half of respondents (45 percent) say medical identity theft affected their reputation in some way.

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Medical identity theft affected two million victims in 2014