by Doug Book, editor
Few people realize that the HIPAA “privacy” form shoved under the nose of every individual visiting a hospital or doctor’s office has NOTHING whatever to do with the preservation of patient privacy. Nor does it mean that patient consent will be required before a healthcare provider may share their records. On the contrary, signing the form simply means the patient has been advised that his most private medical (and other) information may be legally accessed by some 2.2 million entities, many having nothing to do with either health or treatment.
In 2009, the federal government modified the HIPAA “privacy rule” so as to “…permit the selling of Americans’ electronic health records for public-health and research purposes—without patients’ consent.” (1) Though it was promised that changes to the statute would prohibit the sale of electronic records, in fact some 1.5 million “business associates” working on behalf of hospitals, doctors and the like were given unencumbered access to personal health information. Those associates include billing companies, third party administrators and “persons who perform legal, actuarial, accounting, management, or administrative work” for healthcare insurers or providers. (1)
Why would the federal government suddenly want medical records computerized and made available to a million and a half organizations previously denied access without first obtaining consent? According to the Citizens Council for Health Freedom, the legislation was passed “…in anticipation of creating State Health Information Exchanges (HIEs) and a National Health Information Network (NHIN).” (2) Remember that the viability of ObamaCare depends in part upon the ability of government to collect and pass on information about millions of prospective participants. It seems the passage of this modified HIPAA rule was a precursor to the Affordable Care Act. (Then again, the Regime just plain enjoys spying on Americans, doesn’t it!)
Of course it’s possible that the loss of privacy rights concerning medical records and history is really not such a big deal. After all, it does represent only a small portion of our private lives. And besides, the Obama Administration does not intend to store much personal information about Americans in its ObamaCare surveillance system, unless of course one counts:
Applicant’s first names, last name, middle initial, Mailing address or permanent residential address, Social Security Number, Taxpayer status, Gender, Ethnicity, Residency, Email address, Telephone number, Information that will verify the information provided by the individual/enrollee…that will enable a decision about an applicant’s eligibility; Citizenship or immigration status; Enrollment in Federally funded minimum essential health coverage (e.g. Medicare, Medicaid, Federal Employees Health Benefit Program (FEHBP); Veterans Health Administration (Champ VA); Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP); Department of Defense (TRICARE), Peace Corps); Incarceration status; Indian status; Enrollment in employer-sponsored coverage; Requests for and accompanying documentation to justify receipt of individual responsibility exemptions including membership in a certain type of recognized religious sect or health care sharing ministry; Employer information; Status as a veteran; Limited health status information (pregnancy status, blindness, disability status); Household income including tax return information from the IRS, income information from the Social Security Administration and financial information from other third party sources; Applicant’s enrollment in a qualified health plan (QHP); Premium amounts and payment history; Name and address of the employer who uses the SHOP exchange; Number of employees of the employer who uses the SHOP exchange; Employer identification number; List of qualified employees; Tax ID numbers of qualified employees. (3)
Taken from the Federal Register, this is a listing of the information which the Centers for Medicaid and Medicaid Services (CMS) Data Center will maintain on every American no matter how remotely involved in ObamaCare he might be. Naturally, the government makes it clear that the information kept on us will “not be limited to” those items listed above. After all, something important might come along!
Make no mistake. ObamaCare has given rise to the most sophisticated and intrusive, personal data collection scheme in history.
Isn’t it nice that the president takes such an interest in us?