Obamacare opportunities… for identity theft
posted at 11:31 am on February 8, 2014 by Jazz Shaw
Jillian Kay Melchior has an informative – and rather alarming – article up at National Review detailing a less discussed aspect of Obamacare which consumers should be aware of. Identity theft gets a lot of coverage in the media (think Target most recently), but I was unaware that the majority of such theft and fraud takes place in the area of medical supplies and services.
Most identity theft in the United States is medical-related, according to a recent report from the Identity Theft Resource Center. The survey was released even as certain aspects of Obamacare enrollment have raised concerns about identity theft and consumer privacy.
The Center defines medical identity theft as “the fraudulent use of an individual’s personally identifiable information, such as name, Social Security number, and/or medical insurance identity number to obtain medical goods or services, or to fraudulently bill for medical goods or services using an unlawfully obtained medical identity,” also noting that it “has profound consequences for patients, insurance providers and health care providers.”
In 2012 alone, medical identity theft increased by nearly 25 percent, affecting 1.85 million Americans, according to another recent report from the Ponemon Institute, which researches privacy issues.
This makes sense, since it’s probably easier to fraudulently steal a large amount of money from a giant, overburdened medical insurance system than to take a small amount from an individual who may be closely watching their credit card statements each month. It’s a new world of organized crime taking place in cyberspace. And now, consider the “opportunities” opening up to such criminals if there are millions of people feeding their personal information into a new, untested, and highly unstable online system like the healthcare dot gov website. It should give us pause.
But that doesn’t mean that opportunities for the “small business” individual thief are completely absent. The so called “navigators” who are supposed to help you find your way through the byzantine maze of Obamacare have access to all sorts of information which could pave the way to mischief. But they’re all trustworthy, honest individuals, right? Melchior finds that, at least in California, that may not be such a safe assumption either.
At least 43 convicted criminals are working as Obamacare navigators in California, including three individuals with records of significant financial crimes.
Although some of the offenses are decades old, and although convicted criminals account for only 1 percent of the 3,729 certified enrollment counselors in the state, Californians still have good cause to be concerned about their privacy…
Limited statistics released by Covered California — the state’s new health-insurance exchange — showed that one navigator has repeat forgery offenses — one in 1982, then another in 1994, with a burglary in between. Another had two forgery convictions in 1988, in addition to a domestic-violence charge a decade later. Another committed welfare fraud in 1999 and had shoplifted on at least two prior occasions. Since 2000, individuals now working as navigators have committed crimes including child abuse, battery, petty theft, and evading a police officer. At least seven navigators have multiple convictions.
The sub-title of that second article really says it all. Officials say a criminal record should not keep someone from getting a job. But why this job?
Bad ideas, when crafted into legislation, result in bad laws. Even good ideas, when implemented stupidly, can turn sour quickly. But when you stupidly implement a bad idea, you’ve entered a whole new universe of fail.