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.
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.
Democratic presidential candidates are proposing a variety of new taxes to pay for their preferred social programs. Bloomberg’s Laura Davison and Misyrlena Egkolfopoulou took a look at how the top four candidates would fare under their own tax proposals.
“The fact is very little medical care is shoppable. We become good shoppers when we are repeat shoppers. If you buy a new car every three years, you can become an informed shopper. There is no way to become an informed shopper for your appendix. You only get your appendix out once.”
— David Newman, former director of the Health Care Cost Institute, quoted in an article Thursday by Noam Levey of the Los Angeles Times. Levey says the “consumer revolution” in health care – in which patients shop around for the best prices, forcing doctors, hospitals and pharmaceutical firms to compete with lower prices – hasn’t materialized, but the higher deductibles that were part of the effort are very much in effect. “High-deductible health insurance was supposed to make American patients into smart shoppers,” Levey writes. “Instead, they got stuck with medical bills they can't afford.”
The House Ways and Means Committee released a new analysis of drug prices in the U.S. compared to 11 other developed nations, and the results, though predictable, aren’t pretty. Here are the key findings from the report:
- The U.S. pays the most for drugs, though prices varied widely.
- U.S. drug prices were nearly four times higher than average prices compared to similar countries.
- U.S. consumers pay significantly more for drugs than other countries, even when accounting for rebates.
- The U.S. could save $49 billion annually on Medicare Part D alone by using average drug prices for comparator countries.
The U.S. ranks 18th for retiree well-being among developed nations, according to the latest Global Retirement Index from Natixis, the French corporate and investment bank. The U.S. fell two spots in the ranking this year, due in part to rising economic inequality and poor performance for life expectancy.