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SOURCE Ponemon Institute; Medical Identity Fraud Alliance
Ponemon report concludes consumers unaware of life-threatening dangers; Medical Identity Fraud Alliance launched to mobilize healthcare industry and empower consumers
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. and WASHINGTON, Sept. 12, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Medical identity theft is a national healthcare issue with life-threatening and hefty financial consequences. According to the 2013 Survey on Medical Identity Theft conducted by Ponemon Institute, medical identity theft and "family fraud" are on the rise; with the number of victims affected by medical identity theft up nearly 20 percent within the last year. The survey, sponsored by the Medical Identity Fraud Alliance (MIFA) with support from ID Experts®, finds that medical identity theft affects an estimated 1.84 million people in the U.S.; with victims forking out more than $12 billion in out-of-pocket costs incurred by medical identity theft. For a free copy of the 2013 Survey on Medical Identity Theft, visit http://medidfraud.org/2013-survey-on-medical-identity-theft.
For the purposes of this study, medical identity theft occurs when someone uses an individual's name and personal identity to fraudulently receive medical services, goods, and/or prescription drugs, including attempts to commit fraudulent billing.
Consumers are Vulnerable; "Family Fraud" is a Growing Problem
Half of the consumers surveyed are not aware that medical identity theft can create life-threatening inaccuracies in their medical records, resulting in a misdiagnosis, mistreatment, or the wrong prescriptions. Yet, 50 percent of consumers surveyed do not take steps to protect themselves, mostly because they don't know how. The survey also finds that consumers often put themselves at risk by sharing their medical identification with family members or friends-unintentionally committing "family fraud"-to obtain medical services or treatment, healthcare products, or pharmaceuticals.
"Medical identity theft is tainting the healthcare ecosystem, much like poisoning the town's water supply. Everyone will be affected," said Dr. Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute. "The survey finds that consumers are completely unaware of the seriousness and dangers of medical identity theft."
Medical Identity Fraud Alliance Formed
The medical identity theft problem is getting bigger and more complex with the Affordable Care Act and the increased use of electronic health records (EHRs). Healthcare organizations cannot solve the medical identity theft problem alone. The Medical Identity Fraud Alliance (MIFA), also announced today, is the first cooperative public-private sector effort to unite all stakeholders involved in the protection of consumers-policy decision-makers, organizations that hold protected health information (PHI), health plans, law enforcement, regulatory agencies, companies, nonprofit organizations, and consumer advocates-to jointly develop best practices, solutions, and technologies for the prevention, detection and remediation of medical identity theft and fraud. More information is available at http://medidfraud.org/.
"With the formation of the Medical Identity Fraud Alliance, we have an opportunity to bring a serious societal problem to the forefront and protect the public," said Robin Slade, development coordinator for the Medical Identity Fraud Alliance. "MIFA will act as the intersection between industry, government, and consumers. We are working together to vaccinate against medical identity theft and fraud."
Key Findings of the 2013 Survey on Medical Identity Theft
Feedback was collected from several government agencies to develop the 2013 Survey on Medical Identity Theft, the first research deliverable sponsored by MIFA, to measure the prevalence, extent, and impact of medical identity theft in the U.S. to consumers and the healthcare industry. Following are key findings of the 2013 report:
Consumers Can Take Action With These Seven Steps
MIFA recommends that individuals be the first line of defense in protecting their PHI; and suggests that individuals follow these seven steps:
About the Study
The 2013 Survey on Medical Identity Theft is based on survey research conducted this year, involving adult-aged individuals who self-reported they or close family members were victims of medical identity theft. The survey offers a detailed view of the complex issue of medical identity theft. Additional questions were added to expand the understanding of how victims were affected by the theft, the costs they incurred, and the actions they took to resolve the crime.
About Ponemon Institute
Ponemon Institute is dedicated to advancing responsible information and privacy management practices in business and government. To achieve this objective, the Institute conducts independent research, educates leaders from the private and public sectors, and verifies the privacy and data protection practices of organizations in a variety of industries.
About Medical Identity Fraud Alliance
MIFA is dedicated to helping its members better protect their organizations and consumers from medical identity theft and the resulting financial, physical and emotional damage it can cause. MIFA Founding Members include Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida, Inc.; Clearwater Compliance LLC; Global Patient Identifiers, Inc; GuideIT; Henry Ford Health System; ID Experts; Identity Finder, LLC; LifeMed ID; M2SYS Technology; Meditology Services; and TraitWare. Members provide leadership to: mobilize the healthcare ecosystem; cooperate to leverage collective power; research to adequately understand the problem and guide solution building; educate consumers, industry, legislators and regulators; and empower individuals to be the first line of defense in protecting their PHI. More information can be found at http://medidfraud.org/.
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