Health Industry Breaches Are Increasing. What Can You Do To Protect Your Personal Medical Information?

Kellam T. Parks
Managing Member of Parks Zeigler, PLLC

According to the Identity Theft Resource Center (“ITRC”), there have already been 420 data breaches in 2016 resulting in over 12 million personal records being exposed making your identity move vulnerable to theft. It is not surprising that as the use of technology increases and becomes more central in our everyday lives, the risk of identity theft will increase as well. While we often hear about, or read, news stories that discuss the heightened risk of identity theft associated with retail, both physical and online (especially during the holidays), many people aren’t as aware of other vulnerable areas.

Medical records include financial and health related information.

The breaching of healthcare industry databases is increasing every year. In leu of these increases, it is becoming more important to keep a close eye on your medical information. Indeed, our most personal details are included in our medical records and breaches can expose financial and medical information. Not only can medical identity theft do substantial damage to your financial well-being, but your medical records may be altered which can affect how you’re treated and types of medicine your given. Keeping in mind the sensitive nature of information and data the medical and healthcare industries handle, we might presume that there are extra secure protective mechanisms in place to ward off would-be thieves. Regardless of whether or not that is the case, it shouldn't deter us from remaining vigilent ourselves.

What can I do to protect my medical records?

Currently, there is no easy way to fix your records as the medical privacy laws in place can actually restrict your ability to correct misinformation, which makes it all the more important to recognize issues before there is any substantial damage. Further, often times hospitals and insurance companies deal with third party vendors, and patients or consumers don't have any say in which vendors are used. Indeed, there are a lot of factors that are beyond our control. 

Unfortunately, while there is nothing you can do to protect yourself from health insurance companies being breached, there are some things you can do to recognize when they have been tampered with.

  • Review insurance statements. Regularly checking your insurance statements offers two advantages. First and most obvious is that it is impossible to see what you don't look at. If you don't look at your statements, you won't find any evidence of tampering. Second, the more you look at your statements, the more familiar you will become with what you are looking at. This famialiarity allows you to spot even the most miniscule irregularities.
  • Getting a copy of your electronic medical file. EMF's ofer a lot of advantages. They centralize medical information making it more accurate and easy to make changes and find relevant information. Of course, that also means that it becomes more vulnerable to breaches. Under the HIPAA, you have a right to access your information, and keep track of the information.
  • Monitor your credit activity. You should monitor your credit regularly to help recognize all types of identity theft, and it applies here just the same.
  • Protect your insurance card. Always protect your physical records and credentials which provide access to information.

Regaining control of your identity and finances after identity theft is a complex and difficult process. Please get in touch with us if you have any questions on the matter.

 

 

 

 

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