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MEDICAL DATA BASES ARE SCARY

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It finally happened. I was sorting through my junk mail throwing out the offers for credit cards that had been reserved in my name. One ad from a company called PrivacyGuard caught my attention. I'll quote from the ad.

"Your Medical History: Find out what insurance companies, the government, and other non-medical personnel can find out about your health - and exactly who has asked to see this file, if you have one at the Medical Information Bureau."A medical history data base like my credit history? A data base that an insurance company could use to deny me and my family coverage? A data base that could be manipulated by unscrupulous individuals?

You think Internal Revenue Service information in the wrong hands is dangerous. Wait until crooks learn to exploit your medical history.

Where are they getting my medical background? I work in the health insurance claims-processing industry, and a few possible sources started coming to mind.

First of all, the insurance companies could of course agree to share this information among themselves or sell it to others for a nice profit.

At one large insurance company I worked for, some of my coworkers reported being told to search through the Medicare files to create a list of healthy prospects they could target for sale of Medicare Insurance Supplemental policies. When I heard about this, I couldn't believe how bold some insurance companies are becoming at violating privacy laws and the trust federal and state governments have placed in them to process Medicare and Medicaid claims.

Another possibility that came to mind was the Community Health Information networks that are being set up in the different states. Several of the large insurance companies in Utah are trying to start such a network. It is called the Utah Health Information Network (UHIN). In one of the brochures, they advertise they are going to collect health claim data and provide it to the state of Utah.

They claim they will strip the names off the claim and protect the privacy of the patient. But how do we know they will do that? How do we know they will not sell the information with the names intact to some of these Medical Information Bureaus?

We as citizens should wake up. We should attend the UHIN meetings and see what is going on. We should talk to our state and federal representatives and voice our concerns.

Name withheld