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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

MONEY MATTERS WITH SHEILA--GUARD AGAINST HEALTH INSURANCE FRAUD

Money guru Sheila Conway is here today with advice on identity theft. -- AP

Identity theft is on the rise, and a prime target is insurance fraud. People steal your identity and insurance information, then have medical procedures done under your name. You don’t discover the fraud until you get a bill for whatever your insurance provider didn’t cover.

Other types of this fraud include doctors billing your insurance company for treatment you never received and pharmacists and nurses using your information to fill prescriptions (usually painkillers) for themselves or others. Your information can also be sold on the black market to people who set up phony clinics and file false medical claims to your insurance provider under your name.

No one is totally immune to a determined identity thief, but thieves go after easy marks. Don’t make yourself an easy mark. One of the best ways to guard yourself against this type of fraud is never give out your insurance card number or other personal information to anyone. It’s bad enough you have to give out this information at doctors’ offices, hospitals, and pharmacies. Often, that’s where the thieves first get hold of your information. Just because someone works for a doctor, hospital, or pharmacist, it doesn’t mean that person is ethical and honest.

Treat your insurance card with the same care you do your passport. If it’s stolen, report it immediately. Look closely at your Explanation of Benefits statements when they come. Make sure you recognize the doctor, date of treatment, and tests or procedures done. If not, call your insurance company immediately.

If you ever take part in free screening for blood pressure, diabetes, etc., never give out your insurance or personal information to the screeners. These screenings at pharmacies and street fairs are another prime spot for identity thieves to lurk.

Great advice, Sheila! Readers, p
ost a comment to enter the drawing for a book from our Book Club Friday guest author this week.-- AP

3 comments:

wfnren said...

The only problem we had with id theft was last year when the IRS incorrectly coded my husbands ss# as a possible theft. We've filed a joint return for 41 years, lived at the same address for 11 years, and they admitted it was there error but it took us 5 months to get our refund.

wfnren(at)aol(dot)com
wrensthoughts.blogspot.com

Jane R said...

I've never really thought a lot about health insurance fraud. But, over the last few years the medical offices have been much more diligent about asking for identification.... especially for procedures and special tests. But what I find concerning is when doctors bill the insurance companies for nonexistent tests and treatments. I know that loss is in the millions every year and insurance companies encourage their clients to report anything suspicious. Better safe than sorry.

ANASTASIA POLLACK said...

wfnren, having to deal with the IRS can be a real headache. Glad you finally got your refund.

Jane, when social security began, the SS# was only supposed to be used for SS. Now everyone demands it, from banks to doctors. And because your SS# is so readily available, it makes life easy for identity thieves.