What do hackers and thieves do with patient health information that makes it so valuable?
February 5, 2015 the news story broke on CNBC that as many as 80 million customers of the nation’s second-largest health insurance company, Anthem Inc., have had their account information stolen.
The hackers gained access to Anthem’s computer system and got information including names, birthdays, medical IDs, Social Security numbers, street addresses, e-mail addresses and employment information, including income data. It appears that no patient health information was breached, but this now constitutes the largest health care breach in history.
“The FBI is aware of the Anthem intrusion and is investigating the matter,” said FBI spokesman Joshua Campbell.
“The Anthem insurance company breach is another in a long line of breaches that continue to have a deep and disheartening effect on consumer behavior and the smooth flow of commerce both here at home and worldwide,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., ranking member of the Committee on Homeland Security.
Specific to patient healthcare information: Stolen credit card information is typically sold on the black market for about five dollars per individual, however patient health information can be sold from $25-$250 per individual!
Thieves use the information in several ways:
1. Identity theft
2. They sell the information to individuals overseas who then create fake IDs and come to the United States and obtain healthcare services under the policy.
3. They use information to purchase durable goods, such as oxygen tanks, wheelchairs etc. that are covered by insurance and can then be resold on the black market as well.
All precaution should be taken to protect patient health information and identity.