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Blog: Paper Doll, Tackling The Stacks And Piles
The Big OUCH!!! (Medical Identity Theft--Part 1)

Note to Paper Doll's readers:  Due to space/character limitations (including HTML code for links), this post will be split over two entries, one on Sunday and one in my regular space on Tuesday.  Please consider this a sneak preview warning, like the scary film they show on the first day of Driver's Ed before they actually let you behind the wheel.

Previously, we've discussed the importance of organizing your records and yourself to prevent and recover from financial identity theft.  But another theft, that of your medical identity, can be even more dangerous. While financial identity theft can cost you money (and your credit history), time (spent correcting the trouble) and even your freedom (in case your doppelganger commits a crime), medical identity theft can cost you your life.  Does that sound overly melodramatic?  It's not.  

Imagine two scenarios: 

In the first, someone who perpetrates insurance fraud and poses as you gets diagnosed with high blood pressure, H.I.V., migraines or any of a variety of health conditions.  He pays the required co-pay, fills out a change of address form, and you never notice (or even receive) the explanation of benefits, and go on about your merry way.  Years later, you apply for medical and life insurance and the company flags "your" prior diagnosis.  The insurance company may sell you the health and life insurance policies, but at a MUCH higher premium rate, plus they may refuse to cover you for what they deem a pre-existing condition.  You may not have had high blood pressure before, but you sure do now!

In the second scenario, imagine continuing on with the same insurance policy you've had all along, never realizing anything is amiss.  Then you find yourself ill with multiple sclerosis or Parkinson's Disease or cancer, and begin the best treatment available, only to find that the insurance company is refusing to cover the costs because "you" have already reached your lifetime limit of benefits.  That lifetime limit may have been one million dollars, but if your thief's illness (years prior) was serious enough and the stolen coverage went undetected by you, your life could now be in peril.  While your health and energy are at their weakest, you will have to fight to regain your medical identity; simultaneously, you'll be unlikely to find any insurance company willing to take you on, as you now (however illegitimately) have a pre-existing condition.

Scared enough to take this seriously?  According to the World Privacy Foundation, over 250,000 Americans are victimized by medical identity theft each year.  Medical identity theft is widespread and serious, but just as with financial identity theft, there are precautions you can take.  In the follow-up post in our regular space this Tuesday (6/3/08), we'll talk about how to safeguard your Social Security number, get the MIB (no, not the Men in Black) involved and using the power of a loud voice (to call the cops, involve the Feds and dispute fraud and mistakes.

Meet you back here on Tuesday morning...until then, review some cautionary anecdotes, watch these two YouTube videos here and (especially) here and stay healthy!

posted on: 6/1/2008 5:17:17 PM by Julie Bestry
category: Paper

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Paper Doll, Tackling The Stacks And Piles

by Julie Bestry

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Julie Bestry, President of Best Results Organizing in Chattanooga, TN, is a Certified Professional Organizer®, speaker and author. Julie helps overwhelmed individuals and businesses save time and money, reduce stress and increase productivity through new organizational skills and systems.

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