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Did you know that your medical information is worth $50? At least that's according to experts who say that your insurance number, part of your medical history, or your insurance number are worth big bucks to those individuals who will try to file a fraudulent claim with your information.

Last year alone, there were an estimated 11 times that Michigan health care providers accidentally breached or lost the health data of more than 118,000 patients overall. Plus, a report released last year alleges that such mistakes have risen 32% since last year because of doctors' increased reliance on smartphones or other electronic devices to update medical files. Although it's not clear whether the information was used to file fraudulent claims, it still can be used in such malicious ways–leading you to have more difficulty obtaining insurance or having to spend years rebuilding your credit history.

But the federal government decided it was time to get tough in 2009. As part of an effort to decrease the violation of health privacy laws, lawmakers passed the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act. The HITECH law made the following stipulations:

• It provides $20 billion in funding to help local providers adopt electronic record-keeping. Providers who have not adopted such technology by 2015 will be penalized by a lowering of their Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements.

• It hands state attorneys general the authority to bring civil action on behalf of residents if their health information is inappropriately released or stolen.

• It boosts fines for those who fail to protect information to up to $1.5 million, depending on how egregious the breaches might be.

• It requires public reporting of breaches involving information for more than 500 people.

Hopefully, these types of changes will protect patients from ID theft and mixed-up records that could permanently and drastically alter their lives.

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