Who should be concerned about health care data security?

Insurance companies and self-insured employers, obviously. They are the ones who will be footing the bill for fraudulently obtained health care. And, big picture, all of us as employees, since we share in the cost of employer-based coverage. Oh, and governments: media reports of Medicaid and Medicare fraud appear regularly. It’s a real problem. But how about you and me as individuals?

Absolutely! Consider care that’s rendered to someone who has stolen your identity — care that’s entered into your medical records. The data integrity in your records is essential, particularly in an emergency situation. A wrong blood type, a drug allergy or a documented pre-existing condition that isn’t yours could be life-threatening. And remember, unlike credit card data, which expires, medical records never do, so once compromised always compromised.

Even though Target and Nordstrom have data experts who focus on security, those retailers’ information has been compromised. It’s clear to me that the health care industry doesn’t have their same focus or skill set. And with the Affordable Care Act, access to health records is going to get easier.

If you are concerned with using your credit card at Target, you really should be monitoring your Explanation of Benefits sent to you by doctors and other medical providers. If you see something fishy, investigate it and, if necessary, get it corrected. It’s about more than money.

Hasday is chief operating officer of Frenkel Benefits, LLC, one of the largest privately held independent employee benefits brokers in the United States. Reach him at chasday@frenkel.com or (212) 488-0200, and read more from Hasday at frenkelyspeaking.com.  

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