Over the last few years the public has read about numerous problems with our health care system and many of us can not afford medical expenses. Numerous privacy acts such as HIPPA have come in to play and with them a host of new problems. In many ways the most dangerous is medical identity theft, because it can go undetected for five or even ten years.
Large amounts of private medical information is first stored into a computer, and then later sent through the internet at speeds we could never have imagined possible in the past. Once delivered, we have no control over what the recipient is doing with the information. Sometimes the material gets in the wrong hands for different reasons. It can be as simple as the person does not shred and dispose of it properly. Other times it can be deliberately stolen and sold again. We are seeing a growing number of cases where the information is sold to elderly people who cannot afford to pay their medical bills. In many cases the authorities do not find out until many years later when the patient dies. By this time, the insurance agencies have lost tremendous amounts of money that can only be made up through the raising of premiums.
The public should not be afraid to ask if the doctor’s office has a onsite confidential shredding service and what procedures are in place to protect their private medical information.