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What can happen if you loan or borrow a medical card?

There's no question that the United States has a crisis when it comes to affordable access to medical care. The issue has even become a major talking point heading into the 2020 presidential election.

Desperate times sometimes lead to desperate measures. In this case, some of those desperate measures have included people borrowing a medical card from a friend or relative or lending their own to someone.

Often, these acts are done with the purest -- and most heartfelt -- of intentions. Take, for example, the case of the superintendent of a school in Indiana that used her Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield card to get antibiotics for a sick child in her school district. She lied and told the clinic that the boy was her son -- and ended up facing medical fraud charges. The boy had strep throat, his family lacked transportation to a clinic and the educator was afraid that he would get sicker before he got treatment.

Did she know what she was doing was wrong? Absolutely. Luckily for her, authorities were willing to grant her a diversion program and her employers treated her lightly for the emotional decision that she made in a crisis.

Not all cases of medical insurance fraud are as purely motivated or as easily resolved. Some people steal another person's identity to get the coverage they can't afford on their own. For example, maybe your roomie wanted weight-loss surgery but didn't have an insurance policy that would cover it. If he stole your photo identification and your insurance card, he could pretend to be you to get the elective surgery. You might not be any wiser until you find out that the surgery is listed in your medical records!

Before you're tempted to think it doesn't happen that often, officials in hospitals say that it has become necessary to teach emergency room employees to look for signs of medical identity theft -- because it is now a frequent situation.

Even if you're the victim of medical identity theft, you may have trouble proving you weren't involved. Whether you are guilty of the charges against you or not, take the necessary steps to protect your rights.

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