Updated 8:44 AM EDT, Wed, Aug 18, 2021

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Identity Theft In U.S. Health Care Industry Worst Among Others

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(Photo : REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman) Sample of federal government forms for health coverage application in the United States.

The health care industry in the United States experienced an alarming number of identity theft in 2013, according to Identity Theft Resource Center. Accounting for 44 percent of total data breaches in the country, the industry is finding ways to update its information security.

According to the agency, the health care industry experienced the most number of information breaches in 2013. In contrast, the financial services industry only accounted for 3.7 percent of the total breaches.

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In a survey done by ID Experts, 90 percent of the 91 healthcare organizations who participated experienced data breach in 2012 and 2013. Among these organizations, 38 percent experienced it more than five times.

These health care organizations lost an average of US$2 million. Summing the losses, United States has an estimated medical fraud between $80 billion and $230 billion annually.

The report also raised an alarming issue--the fact that identity theft doubled in the last four years.

The figures prompted several organizations in the industry to collaborate to fight identity theft. This year, they established the Medical Identity Fraud Alliance (MIFA).

The alliance's main objective is to develop best practices that prevent identity theft. It also aims to educate the different entities involved and work with "policy decision makers to develop policies and procedures."

In addition, it aims to do research to "uncover the associated trends and patterns."

Rick Kam, president and co-founder of ID Experts said that criminals realized that using stolen medical identities to purchase services are "more profitable than drugs, prostitution, and other crimes they may pursue."

Ann Patterson, senior vice president of MIFA said that the health care industry must have the kind of cooperation that exists between banks to prevent such crimes.

Experts also believe that it is time to learn from the financial services industry.

Identity breaches are mainly caused by a lost or stolen data device, employee error, "Robin Hood fraud," and direct theft.

The alliance formation is a good development, but at this point, the health care industry has a long way to go to combat identity theft.

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