The Black Market for Medical and Health Care Records
Published: 2015-02-17 - Updated: 2021-09-03
Author: Thomas C. Weiss | Contact: Disabled World (Disabled-World.com)
Peer-Reviewed Publication: N/A
Additional References: Disability Technology Editorials Publications
Synopsis: The health care world is facing a threat with the prospect of medical records being sold on the black market. Criminals want your health care records because the records can do massive financial damage, more than the damages done with a stolen credit card number or a Social Security number. One of the reasons for the high value placed on your medical records is that you cannot cancel your own medical history. It is easy to cancel a credit card that has been stolen.
Criminals in America and elsewhere in the world today have become far more technologically skilled. People today use electronic devices such as phones, tablets, laptop and desktop computers. The security of information you do not want to share with others is being compromised every day.
The health care world is facing an incredible threat. People with Disabilities, Veterans, Children with Disabilities and Seniors are facing the prospect of their medical records being sold on the black market in part because we have the most notable medical records. The medical information many of us have is worth money to unscrupulous persons who belong in prison - all for $50 or less per record. To make matters worse, health data is becoming increasingly digital.
Personal Health Record (PHR)
A Personal Health Record (PHR) is a health record where health data and information related to the care of a patient is maintained by the patient. The intention of a personal health record is to provide a complete and accurate summary of an individual's medical history which is accessible online. The health data on a PHR might include patient-reported outcome data, lab results, data from devices such as wireless electronic weighing scales or collected passively from a smartphone.
Electronic Health Record (EHR)
An Electronic Health Record (EHR), or electronic medical record (EMR) is a systematic collection of electronic health information about an individual patient or population. It is a record in digital format that is theoretically capable of being shared across different health care settings. Sharing can occur by way of network-connected, enterprise-wide information systems and other information networks or exchanges. EHRs may include data, including demographics, medical history, medication and allergies, immunization status, laboratory test results, radiology images, vital signs, personal statistics like age and weight, and billing information.
Electronic Crime Enablement
As more medical records are becoming electronic, transfer of a person's health care records, their financial information, passport information and additional personal identification information, as well as family contacts between medical travel facilitators, doctors, and providers through the Internet, the chances increase that a major hospital, a referring doctor, or a facilitator might be caught up in the crime. On the black market a, 'full-identity profile,' of just one person may bring as much as $50. Criminals are becoming ever more skilled at stealing our medical information.
According to Robert Wah, President of the American Medical Association and Chief Medical Officer at the health technology firm, 'CSC,' stated: "It is an arms race between the criminal element and the people trying to protect health data." Take a deep breath if you are able - a stolen Social Security number or a stolen credit card gets a criminal a mere $1 on the black market. Meanwhile, your medical information can get a criminal far, far more money.
Increase in Criminal Theft of Health Records
The Identity Theft Resource Center has identified hundreds of breaches across industries it tracks. The Center says nearly half of these breaches happened in the health sector. Criminal attacks on health data have doubled since the year 2000 according to the Ponemon Institute, which is a leader in data security. The high value of your medical records makes it highly attractive to hackers.
A credit card is something that may be canceled within a short period of time after it has been stolen. Information regarding a person's health care; however, is impossible to somehow, 'cancel.' The records contain your:
- Medical history
- Family contacts
- Financial records
- Personal information
Criminals want your health care records because the records can do massive financial damage, more than the damages done with a stolen credit card number or a Social Security number. Health security experts say providers are more focused on privacy and confidentiality and not enough on theft of your medical records.
Going Prices for Your Medical Information
What are your medical records really worth in the underground world of cyber-crime?
Krebs-On-Security found that people's medical records were being sold In Bulk for as cheaply as $6.40 per record. The medical records were apparently stolen from a Texas life insurance company that says it is working with the federal government on an investigation into a potential data breach. In other words, your medical information is worth around the price of a pizza buffet at your local pizza restaurant.
The time criminals spend gathering your medical information brings to mind the potential these criminals have to do good instead of bad. These criminals are smart, technologically savvy, and have the desire to pursue a criminal career - why don't they do something good and positive instead? Even at $8 per stolen medical record, criminals are bringing in more money from these records than they would for stolen credit cards or Social Security numbers.
One of the reasons for the high value placed on your medical records is that you cannot cancel your own medical history. It is easy to cancel a credit card that has been stolen. Due to this fact, it is far more difficult to prevent stolen medical information from being used against you by criminals. Here are some of the going rates for stolen information:
- Date of birth $3
- Credit card number $1.50
- Mother's maiden name $6
- Social Security number $3
- Medical record information $6-50
Stolen medical information such as insurance or electronic health record information is financially desirable to criminals because they use it to submit inflated or false medical claims. The records may be used to purchase prescription medications, or to pay for medical care. The end result is that it costs the person whose records were stolen. A panel of experts pointed out that violations of a person's health care or insurance privacy are an increasing source of stolen medical information, to include information that is lost or stolen by insiders such as health care or insurance workers. The panelists explained how medical record identity theft is detectable through analysis of activity related to health care records applications and additional financial and clinical computer systems.
Plainly, criminals who steal medical records must be over-joyed with those of us who experience forms of disabilities. We often times have extensive records to be stolen. It seems that security has not kept up with technological ability. While electronic wonders such as phones, tablets, laptop and desktop computers have enhanced our world in many ways - it is also very frightening to consider the fact that criminals are taking advantage of people who may not be able to protect their own medical information.
Thomas C. Weiss is a researcher and editor for Disabled World. Thomas attended college and university courses earning a Masters, Bachelors and two Associate degrees, as well as pursing Disability Studies. As a Nursing Assistant Thomas has assisted people from a variety of racial, religious, gender, class, and age groups by providing care for people with all forms of disabilities from Multiple Sclerosis to Parkinson's; para and quadriplegia to Spina Bifida.
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• Cite This Page (APA): Thomas C. Weiss. (2015, February 17). The Black Market for Medical and Health Care Records. Disabled World. Retrieved January 27, 2023 from www.disabled-world.com/editorials/technology/blackmarket.php
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