A Glimpse Inside the $234 Billion World of Medical ID Theft

Rick Kam and Christine Arevalo | Government Health IT | February 8, 2012

Healthcare fraud is costing American taxpayers up to $234 billion annually, based on estimates from the FBI. It’s no wonder that a stolen medical identity has a $50 street value, according to the World Privacy Forum – whereas a stolen social security number, on the other hand, only sells for $1.

One form of healthcare fraud, known as medical identity theft, has its own staggering statistics: 1.42 million Americans were victims of medical identity theft in 2010, according to a 2011 study on patient data privacy and security by the Ponemon Institute. The report estimates the annual economic impact of medical identity theft to be $30.9 billion.

Medical identity theft occurs when a person uses someone else’s medical record to obtain medical goods or services or to bill for medical goods and services that the patient did not receive. Thieves will also use a person’s social security number to obtain medical services or health insurance...