Editorials, Health

How to Protect Your Family from Healthcare Fraud

healthcare insurance fraud

Most savvy consumers are already on the lookout for online identity theft and are proactive about protecting their finances, but medical identity theft is an overlooked but pervasive crime that’s on the rise. The number of patients impacted by medical identity theft has increased nearly 22 percent in the last year alone.

Untangling medical identity theft is messy and difficult, especially if your children become victims. It’s not always obvious that your medical identity has been stolen until it’s too late. Here are the signs to look for and how to take an aggressive approach to protecting your family from health care fraud.

Scrutinize Your Healthcare Bills

It may be easy to dismiss a few strange prescriptions on your health insurance bill or a stray doctor’s visit you don’t remember ever happening. In reality, scouring those bills can give clues to whether or not someone is using your medical identity to get treatment or acquire prescription drugs. Carefully look through all of your family’s bills and document any doctor’s visits and medications. When the bills come in, you’ll know in advance which dates and treatments are accurate and which are suspicious.

Check Your Family’s Credit Reports

It’s frighteningly easy for children to fall victim to identity theft, in part because we generally don’t bother to check their credit reports or monitor their online identity. But identity theft can impact your children’s future credit and employment possibilities if thieves have opened fraudulent accounts in your children’s names.

Be proactive about checking your child’s credit report and look for any malicious activity while paying particular attention to anything medical. Outstanding charges and activity relating to doctor’s visits and hospital stays signal both an identity theft and medical identity theft problem that needs to be addressed immediately. You can also use an identity theft monitoring service to stay on top of your family’s online identity to ensure no one’s information is being used fraudulently.

Run away from Free Medical Treatment

It may be tempting to get a quick checkup or a flu shot for free at an unknown clinic or from a volunteer doctor, but you may be opening yourself up to being scammed into giving your medical information. Free medical treatment is often a way to obtain dozens of insurance cards and medical information before closing up shop. Always work with a reputable and trusted medical provider, or call your insurance and verify the treatment you want to receive in advance to ensure your family’s health and identity are kept safe.

Pay Attention to Errors in Medical Records

When is the last time your doctor or child’s pediatrician asked about a treatment you don’t recall getting? An innocent check-up you can’t remember may be nothing more than an error, or it could be a sign that your medical records have been compromised and are filled with fraudulent treatment. Question your medical professionals on what they see in your medical records, or ask for a hard copy to review yourself. Immediately flag anything suspicious with your health care provider to put a stop to any ongoing medical fraud and untangle the damage.

If you think your family has been a victim of medical identity theft, contact your health insurance and healthcare provider to ask for corrections and dispute erroneous items. If your family hasn’t been affected by medical identity theft yet, stay proactive about their safety and make crime prevention part of your focus.

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Author: Armin Brott

Armin Brott is the proud father of three, a former U.S. Marine, a best-selling author, radio host, speaker, and one of the country’s leading experts on fatherhood. He writes frequently about fatherhood, families, and men’s health. Read more about Armin or visit his website, mrdad.com. You can also connect via social media: Facebook.com/mrdad, @mrdad, pinterest.com/mrdad, linkedin.com/in/mrdad, plus.google.com/+mrdad.

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