Monthly Archives: July 2013

Medical ID Theft – The New Threat to Your Privacy, Health, and Finances

Identity theft, an on going threat to everyone’s privacy and finances, has resulted in numerous calamities for hundreds of thousands of citizens. Many safeguards have been instituted to stop its spread but it continues. And now a new ID theft has surfaced which presents even more serious problems. Medical identity theft, the new id theft problem is growing at an alarming rate. Daily 1000’s of accounts of privacy, health and finances improprieties, as a result of medical identity theft, are reported.

Medical identity theft can create life-threatening problem, especially for senior citizens. For this reason, local and federal law makers are considering drafting legislation which will make the criminal punishment for medical id theft far more harsh than current id theft laws. New proposed laws will go beyond just slapping hands and firing employees. New laws are to include significant fines and sentencing the guilty party to substantial jail time. It is important to announce medical id theft will not be tolerated with a stricter message to deter this type of crime.

Like standard id theft, medical identity thieves steal the victims name, insurance information, and Social Security Number and use it without its real owner’s knowledge. Medical ID identity thieves have the potential to endanger not only the victims finances, but their health as well as they utilize the stolen information to get medical services, obtain fraudulent prescriptions, or, more commonly, to apply for credit.

Over the past ten years the economy for personal information has really matured. The institutions which had the most to lose from the negative reports about wide spread id theft, like banks and online merchants started doing a much better job of protecting data.

Today’s identity thieves go where the cap on resistance is the least and where the financial opportunities are the greatest. Consumers’ medical insurance information is their new venue and electronic medical records are the in road they use to take advantage of this new opportunity. Individual medical information is quickly becoming as valuable as their financial information counter part,” according to Scott Mitic, chief executive officer for TrustedID, an identity theft protection company.

According to market research firm Javelin Strategy & Research new report, data theft related to exposure of medical records rose in one year more than 100%, from 3% in 2008 to 7%, or 275,000 cases, last year.

Once in the hands of these crooks, there is no shortage of ways the hijacked medical information can be put to use. In a number of cases, employees with access to this personal information steals patient credit card information and go on shopping spree. Other cases, involve obtaining and falsifying prescriptions for abuse and resell and more seriously, use of a stolen identity to submit bogus claims to insurers and falsify medical records to support those claims.

“In situations where the intention is to defraud the insurance companies, the medical id thieves are usually more sophisticated individuals who are part of a networked effort. But the origin of the information theft usually remains low-tech and originates from person-to-person communication,” Mitic added.

Seniors, who generally use health care services more frequently, and may not be as aware of identity theft risks, have been the most likely victims of medical identity fraud. Their lack of knowledge of this fraud also make them more susceptible to the deceptive persuasion used to obtain their personal information.

A recent Medicare phone scam conducted in several states targeted elderly consumers by pressuring them to divulge personal details on the pretext they were being issued new Medicare cards. An official sounding organization calls on the phone saying they are updating the victims Medicare data information prior to issuing the new card.

One Medicare scheme, reported in the New York Daily News, involved a 72-year-old woman from Grahamsville, NY. She learned she had become the victim of medical ID theft when she began receiving strange insurance bills. The paperwork showed Medicare had been billed, in her name, for a pregnancy test, a prostate exam, semen analysis, and other medical services she had not had performed. Bureaucratic hurdles prevented her from stopping the fraud, despite that she repeatedly called Medicare to alert the agency. At the end of her three-year ordeal with Medicare, the total fraud in her name amounted to close to $50,000.

Consumers most be vigilant to prevent medical ID theft, both proactively and re actively. All information, including medical insurance information, Social Security information, dates of birth and PIN numbers should be treated equally valuable and never shared unless you are thoroughly familiar with the source you are giving it to. It is important that you check your medical benefits statements as diligently as you do your credit card statements. Also be aware you have the right to request an annual disclosure record from their insurer and do so. Medical id theft is growing. In the wrong hands, this information has the potential to endanger not only your finances, but your health.

Carcinogen: Environmental Exposures From Modern Life Styles And Medical Sources

“Though overall cancer incidence and mortality have continued to decline in recent years, the disease continues to devastate the lives of far too many Americans. In 2009 alone, approximately 1.5 million American Men, Women and children were diagnosed with cancer, and 562,000 died from the disease. With the growing body of evidence linking environmental exposures to cancer, the public is becoming increasingly aware of the unacceptable burden of cancer resulting from environmental and occupational exposures that could have been prevented through appropriate national action” Excerpt from a letter to President Barack Obama by the President’s Panel on cancer.

Cancer continues to shatter and steal the lives of Americans. Approximately 41percent of Americans will be diagnosed of cancer sometime in their lives and about 21percent will possibly die from cancer.

Actually we seem to be losing the war against cancer because we have refused to address to a large extent the environmental causes of cancer. We have stubbornly refused to look at cancer from the angle of modern lifestyles and hazards from medical sources, not to talk of what we garbage in, in the name of food.

Convenience of modern life, from our toiletries, make up, automobile, generators, dry cleaning, airplane travel, potable tap water, cellular communication and electricity which was made to make life easy for all, has considerable impacted our environment and human health and some other unconfirmed effects on our health.

It might interest you to know that mobile source, air emission for trucks, cars, ships and other passenger vehicles and equipments contribute approximately 30 percent of cancer resulting from air pollution, and disinfection of public water supplies with intention of reducing water borne diseases may indirectly be affecting our health and research indicates that long term exposure to disinfection by- products may increase cancer risk.

Do you know that even chemicals used for household pest control can turn to a component of carpet dust leading to health risk for children playing on the floor?

The use of cell phone does not help matters either as this device are used regularly by older and younger ones alike. Though there’s no evidence between the use of cell phone and cancer, however research on cancer and other diseases among long term and heavy users of wireless device is very limited.

Over the past two decades technology like imaging, nuclear medicine examinations including new pharmaceuticals interventions has all made possible diagnosis and treatment of human disease, cancer inclusive,but they also carry some health risks. It is on record that Americans get half of their total radiation exposure from medical imaging and other medical sources, actually medical radiation has nearly doubled over the years.

It might interest you to know that computed tomography (CT) and nuclear medicine tests alone contribute 36 percent of total radiation exposure and 75percent of the medical exposure of the US population.

The worst of it all is medical imaging of children since they have more years of life during which malignancy initiated by medical radiation can set in, and worrisome aspect of it is that many referring physicians, radiologists and the general public are unaware of radiation doses associated with various test.

“Even those who receive multiple scans or other tests that requires radiation may assimilate doses equal to or exceeding that of HIROSHIMA atomic bomb survivors.”

It is widely believed that a single large dose of ionizing radiation and numerous low doses is equal to the body over time.

How doses one feel discovering that pharmaceuticals contribute a considerable source of environmental contamination, drugs of all types find its way into sources of water supply when they are improperly disposed.

Did I hear you ask the health impact of long term exposure to varying mixtures of these compounds. Your guess is as good as mine.

To combat and win the war on cancer, one need considerable and significant lifestyle changes, watch your environment and be careful of all those habits you indulge in and above all watch that thing you garbage in, in the name of food.

Breakthroughs in Medication Management – Automatic Pill Dispensers and Medication Compliance

In 2007, Americans spent $227.5 billion to fill over 3.3 billion prescriptions (Rx). Over 50 million people take three or more prescriptions concurrently, however the average “compliance” with taking medications as prescribed is only 50% nationwide. Disturbingly the non-compliance rates for medications used to treat serious disorders are not much better than the average compliance rate for all prescriptions.

Overall Prescription Drug compliance for selected diagnosis

Average: 50%
Acute Asthma: 43%
Mental Disorders: 25%-75%
High Blood Pressure: 51%
Epilepsy: 30% to 50%
Diabetes: 40% to 50%
Clinical Trials: 43%-78%

Average compliance rates do not tell the whole story as the compliance persistence curve slopes steeply downwards. Research shows that the longer a person is on a prescription drug, the less likely they are to take it in compliance as prescribed. A recent study conducted on the compliance rates of 4 different prescription drugs (Cozar, Fosamax, Zocor and AI) showed that compliance rates fell off rapidly for all 4 medications. And after one year, compliance is reduced by 50%. After five years, it is as low as 29-33%, with the greatest decline in medication adherence in the first six months.

As the data suggests, the aging trend of the USA will dictate that more people will be taking more medications, for longer periods, and sometimes for the rest for their increasingly long lives. This represents a healthcare crisis, given the current rates of non-compliance in the taking of prescription medications.

Cost of health care from non-compliance

According to the Center for Disease Control and other sources, the impacts or costs for health care from non-compliance with medication management are significant. Some highlights include:

10% of all hospital admissions
30% of all hospital admissions for elderly
22-40% all Skilled Nursing Facility admissions
125,000 deaths annually
$100,000,000,000 (B): annual cost of total unnecessary admissions
$150B – $300+B Total annual cost/waste due to medication management alone

The cost of noncompliance is not static. The same forces that are driving up healthcare costs are also exacerbating the costs of non-compliance. The most significant drivers are:

The aging population demographic of the USA
The increased use of prescription medications
The growing shortage of traditional health care resources to meet the increasing needs of the aging population

Longer life spans and relatively low birth rates have combined to raise the nation’s average age over the years. Simply put, the United States is getting older, and the older one gets, the more medications a person typically requires. As the number of prescriptions increase so too does the amount of non-compliance. As a result, the cost to the health care system due to non-compliance is rising significantly.

Health Care Shortage today and the future

Another critical factor in “fueling” the need for the use of technology in the delivery of health care outside of traditional methods is the documented current and increasing shortage of health care workers, services and facilities in the USA. As one example, according to the AHA, hospitals nationwide report vacancy rates of 21 percent for pharmacists, 18 percent for radiology technicians and 12 percent for laboratory technologists. The Health and Human Services Administration reports that 21% more facilities are required as well.

What can be done

This points to a looming crisis in health care, and to the solution that telemedicine represents. In short, combined with more demand for services (due to the aging demographic) and the real issue of reduced overall health care delivery capacity, the need for a significant change is real. Telehealth is the solution to make the existing capacity more effective by increasing the throughput of the existing workers and infrastructure, while allowing people to receive care in the best place possible for them, the home.

Compliance can be significantly improved through better education, home monitoring of the patient, and organizing dosages through the use of pill boxes and other devices, reminders to take pills and alerts to care givers when dosages are not taken. Telehealth based medication management devices can significantly improve compliance rates by utilizing all of these strategies. The DAP from HealthOneMed is a telehealth product that provides automated dispensing of pill based medications for specified doses, notification of the time to take each dose, alerts to caregivers and health care professionals when doses are not taken, instructions, indications (what the medication is for) and warnings. It is the only home health care product on the market capable of all of these functions.