Hospital patients who gave false names were once merely a headache for hospital administrators. Now, some of those discovered in North Carolina are likely to face criminal charges, says the Raleigh News & Observer. Several hospitals say that during the past year they have begun seeking prosecution of those who use false identities to get free health care. The change has been prompted by new federal regulations and a growing awareness of problems caused by identity theft. One administrator said lack of health insurance is a factor in many cases.
In one of its first arrests this week, one hospital accused Stephen Thomas Mullen Jr. of giving a false name, address, and Social Security number before receiving $45,484.08 worth of medical care. More such prosecutions might be coming. "People should know that everyone is watching for this now," said Karen McCall, a spokeswoman for UNC Health Care. "Protection of identity has become such an important issue."