Medical ID Theft is a Way Bigger Problem Than You Think

Medical ID Theft is a Way Bigger Problem Than You Think

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By Beth Braverman

Forget Target and Home Depot. You may be risking identity theft every time you visit the doctor’s office.

Medical ID theft, in which thieves steal your Social Security number and health insurance info in order to fraudulently obtain medical services or treatment, is skyrocketing.

More than 90 percent of healthcare organizations have had a data breach, and 40 percent had more than five data breaches in the past two years, according to a report released last month by ID Experts. Attacks by criminal organizations are up 125 percent over the past five years. Medical identities are worth far more on the black market than financial identities.

The study estimates that data breaches may have cost the industry $6 billion in the last two years. The scariest stat for consumers: Half of organizations surveyed have little or no confidence in their ability to detect all patient data loss or theft. 

Related: Now You Could Lost Your Medical Identity, Too 

Victims of medical ID theft spend thousands to restore their credit and correct inaccuracies in their medical records, and unlike banks and credit card issuers, most healthcare organizations offer no protection services for victims.

In addition to the financial toll, there are health risks to victims of medical ID theft. If someone steals your identity and receives treatment that gets added to your medical records, doctors may have incorrect information regarding your health history and allergies. 

It’s difficult to prevent medical ID theft, but monitoring your credit and closely reading your healthcare bill and explanation of benefits notices can help you catch it early.

Chart of the Day: Trump's Huge Proposed Cuts to Public Investment

Trump budget arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington
KEVIN LAMARQUE/Reuters
By The Fiscal Times Staff

Ben Ritz of the Progressive Policy Institute slams President Trump’s new budget:

“It would dismantle public investments that lay the foundation for economic growth, resulting in less innovation. It would shred the social safety net, resulting in more poverty. It would rip away access to affordable health care, resulting in more disease. It would cut taxes for the rich, resulting in more income inequality. It would bloat the defense budget, resulting in more wasteful spending. And all this would add up to a higher national debt than the policies in President Obama’s final budget proposal.”

Here’s Ritz’s breakdown of Trump’s proposed spending cuts to public investment in areas such as infrastructure, education and scientific research:

Chart of the Day: The Decline in Corporate Taxes

By The Fiscal Times Staff

Since roughly the end of World War Two, individual income taxes in the U.S. have equaled about 8 percent of GDP. By contrast, the Tax Policy Center says, “corporate income tax revenues declined from 6% of GDP in 1950s to under 2% in the 1980s through the Great Recession, and have averaged 1.4% of GDP since then.”

Tax Refunds Rebound

Flickr / Chris Potter
By The Fiscal Times Staff

Smaller refunds in the first few weeks of the current tax season were shaping up to be a political problem for Republicans, but new data from the IRS shows that the value of refund checks has snapped back and is now running 1.3 percent higher than last year. The average refund through February 23 last year was $3,103, while the average refund through February 22 of 2019 was $3,143 – a difference of $40. The chart below from J.P. Morgan shows how refunds performed over the last 3 years. 

Number of the Day: $22 Trillion

iStockphoto/The Fiscal Times
By The Fiscal Times Staff

The total national debt surpassed $22 trillion on Monday. Total public debt outstanding reached $22,012,840,891,685.32, to be exact. That figure is up by more than $1.3 trillion over the past 12 months and by more than $2 trillion since President Trump took office.