Medicare scare prompts Government to review accessibility

The Government launches an independent review into Medicare accessibility.

Medicare scare prompts review

The Government has acted swiftly in response to last week’s revelations that Medicare numbers were available for sale on the ‘darkweb’, announcing an immediate review into accessibility.

The review will investigate the system that allows health care professionals to access a Medicare number using the patient’s name and date of birth, if they are unable to provide a physical copy of their Medicare card and whether this is the source of the security breach.

The system has been in place since 2009 and is used about 45,000 times each day by hospitals, GPs and other health care professionals.

The review will consider the balance between access by health professionals to a patient’s Medicare number with the security of patient medical histories.

The effectiveness of a health provider’s controls over registration and authentication to access card numbers will also be scrutinised.

Organised crime groups use card details to produce fake Medicare cards with legitimate information that can be used for identity fraud.

Card details can also be used to defraud the Government of Medicare rebates. In 2015, a police strike force targeted a group that was using Medicare card details to direct rebate payments into fraudulent bank accounts.

The review will be led by former Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Professor Peter Shergold, and will investigate the adequacy of compliance systems to identify any potential inappropriate access to a patient’s Medicare number.

The presidents of both the Australian Medical Association and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners will be part of the review team.

Recommendations will be made for immediate improvements to the security of Medicare numbers, while continuing to ensure people have access to the health care they need in a timely manner. The review will release an interim report by 18 August and a final report by  30 September.



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    12th Jul 2017
    Having the physical card is difficult because you would then need one for each person on the card including the children.
    I have an image on my phone of the medicare card and I use that when I take the grandchildren to the doctor or dentist. How would schools etc. manage?
    Having a card isn't the answer. Using the medicare card as a form of ID could be stopped and that would stop identity fraud but not medical fraud. Perhaps facial recognition software may(perhaps) work. However children change in appearance very quickly as do seriously ill patients so I am not sure how that would work either.
    I would hate to see us become a nation where they register our fingerprints for ID.
    12th Jul 2017
    Hmmm - but partial intent of the original Medicare card was to assemble masses of information on the individual in one place...

    I'm fond of the time I was taken to a hospital away from home and where I grew up and the doctor asked me if my first home address was a certain street. Indeed it was, but that street had its name changed in the late 1950's, so the information contained is very comprehensive.

    Just offering a word of caution for those who have concerns over government over-control of information, which is pretty much the norm these days.
    12th Jul 2017
    So how does USA protect its citizen's social security identity from ID theft?
    12th Jul 2017
    Why are you worried about finger print ID. Is it because you associate it with criminal activity. When you enter the US they take a copy of fingerprints. i've always though it a good security idea myself.
    Ted Wards
    12th Jul 2017
    How about using egov more and my ehealth records more with extra levels of security. Then lets get real tough and if it turns out to be people illegally here or here under false pretenses and causing this issue and wasting yet more of the tax payers money, lets kick them out of the country. Why should tax payers turn around and support then in prison, I mean our prisons are still better than the homes they came from mostly. We need to get tougher as a nation where fraud and contempt is shown by those whom we have opened the doors to. Please be clear I am not applying this to the thousands of genuine refugees we have and help.
    12th Jul 2017
    Is this another scare campaign by the media, the report I seen a few weeks ago mentioned a couple of hundred Medicare cards that may have been implicated in some sort of scam, so far as identity theft is concerned would a Medicare card be the first source a thief would look at to steal someone's identity? I genuinely don't know the answer, but I know that whenever I shop at certain stores they seem to know more about me than I ever recall giving them details for. It would seem in this new age that our identity is constantly under threat, maybe everyone's Dna should be registered and linked to government agencies, then I guess some tech expert would soon find a way to access the information and use it for some nefarious purpose, or maybe we should scrap all technology and go back to dealing with people directly, think how much employment would be generated, ah well we can dream on, meanwhile if you are intent on stealing someone's identity I wouldn't bother with mine Iv'e got bugger all.

    12th Jul 2017
    I agree that this breach should be investigated but to put the matter in some sort of context, there are about 100 Medicare cards for sale on the Dark Web and About 1,000,000 transactions per day, using Medicare numbers, are made by health professionals. This could be a breach of just one surgery and if this is so, major changes to the system are not warranted. If hackers can access the Penatgon then it would seem that no computer system is foolproof.

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