Significant and negatively impactful data breaches in the healthcare industry have happened for a long time. Back in 2015, Anthem suffered a massive data breach that led to as many as 80 million people having their information stolen. In 2019, third-party billings and collection agency, American Medical Collection Agency (AMCA), suffered a data breach that affected over 24 million people and 20 healthcare entities. That included Quest Diagnostics, who had 11.9 million patients impacted. More recent healthcare data breaches include Florida Orthopaedic Institute, University of Utah Health and PaperlessPay.

What Does it Mean to You?

Data breaches in the healthcare industry continue to happen because of the availability of both personally identifiable information (PII) and personal health information (PHI) available to bad actors. Hackers can do a lot of damage with access to sensitive PHI and PII, like Social Security numbers, health insurance numbers, drivers licenses or identification numbers, medication lists, conditions, diagnoses and financial information. Fraudsters can submit use this data to file fraudulent health insurance claims, apply for medical care and prescription medications, use the information on billing and much more.

According to the Protenus 2020 Breach Barometer, in 2019,  data breaches in the healthcare industry continued to be a problem, involving sensitive patient information, with public reports of hacking jumping 48.6 percent from 2018. The 2020 IBM Report on the average cost of a data breach reported that the most expensive attacks in 2019 occurred in the healthcare sector. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center’s (ITRC) 2019 Data Breach Report, there were 525 medical and healthcare data breaches in 2019, exposing over 39 million sensitive records. The medical and healthcare sector had the second-highest number of breaches and sensitive records exposed of all the sectors the ITRC tracks.

What Can You Do?

Data breaches in the healthcare industry will continue to happen because of the troves of information. However, there are things consumers can do to reduce their risk.

  • Victims should change their username and password for their affected healthcare account
  • Consumers should also change their username and password on any other accounts that have the same username or password as their healthcare account
  • Depending on what piece of PHI is exposed, victims should contact the affected healthcare provider to see what steps need to be taken

Victims of a data breach in the health care industry can call the ITRC toll-free at 888.400.5530 for more information on the next steps they need to take. They can also live-chat with an ITRC expert advisor.

Victims are also encouraged to download the free ID Theft Help app. The app has tools for data breach victims, including a case log to track all of their steps taken, access to helpful resources during the resolution process, instant access to an advisor and much more.

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