Why You Want a Copy of Your Medical Records
After receiving medical treatment, many people never look over the paperwork (save for bill total) and just shove it into some folder in a file cabinet. But medical identity theft is very much out there; know the signs:
- You're denied coverage because you allegedly have a condition you were never diagnosed with.
- A collection agency is hounding you about unpaid medical bills you never had.
- Your credit report shows medical collection notices.
- The bill is for treatment you didn't receive.
- Your health care provider says you've reached your coverage limit.
Thieves steal identities to use the victim's medical coverage, and this could prove life threatening to the victim depending on the victim's health status. This is why you should keep records for all medical visits and treatments. Read everything carefully as though you're searching for mistakes or mis-matched information. Keep records of all associated phone calls and e-mails.
But remember this: You always have a right to all of your records, so don't let any resistance from the carrier make you give up.
- If you run into problems getting any records, learn about your state's health privacy laws.
- Obtaining copies may require a fee.
- Request a copy of "accounting of disclosures." This tells who has ever received copies of your medical records, and when and why.
- Look for mistakes and request corrections from the provider via certified mail.
- If someone has stolen your medical identity, the provider may not want to turn over the records to you. Check the provider's Notice of Privacy Practices and appeal to the contact person listed there.
- With all that said, you should get the records within 30 days. If not, report this to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights.
Medical identity theft can result in you not receiving coverage for major treatment. Here are tips from vitals.lifehacker.com for prevention of this crime:
- Never reveal your Medicare number to anybody in public, even if it's a person inside a medical clinic lobby approaching you and offering a free service for Medicare users.
- Never give your Medicare number over the phone. No exceptions, even if the caller is claiming to be from Medicare.
- Check all medical bills for any odd charges, duplicate charges or errors.
- If a charge appears unauthorized, promptly report it to the provider. If that doesn't help, escalate it to Medicare if you're on Medicare.
- Contact the Federal Trade Commission if you suspect medical identity theft.
Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to BestIDTheftCompanys.com discussing identity theft prevention.
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