You can protect your medical privacy, despite a new wave of threats, according to an expert.
Elizabeth Lee Vliet, M.D., outlined in a new WND commentary Tuesday how ownership of private medical information was usurped by President Obama’s Troubled Assets Relief Program.
Then came the admission by Facebook that the private data of some 87 million people were improperly compiled and used to target voters.
Perhaps most troubling, Vliet said, was the federal government’s 10-year project called All of Us, which aims to compile personal medical and lifestyle information.
“This project seeks ALL of your personal health and lifestyle information: medical records, psychiatric records, drug abuse/addiction treatment, lifestyle, personal habits, your physical measurements such as blood pressure, weight, lab results, all health care visits, medications you are taking and even your DNA,” she warned.
Vliet, who has medical practices in Tucson and Dallas, is the chief medical officer for MedExpertChile and has won numerous awards for her work,.
“Patients must be proactive in protecting medical privacy, realizing that much privacy has already been lost when seeking ‘insurance’ payment for medical care, whether private or government insurance like Medicare and Medicaid,” she said.
There’s work for both patient and doctor.
“Preserving medical confidentiality requires constant vigilance today. Physicians must speak out against being used as agents of the state against the best interests of individual patients,” Vliet wrote in her column.
But just what is it that needs to be done?
For one thing, the electronic insurance claims doctors submit regarding treatment of patients automatically subjects the doctors to mandatory reporting.
The answer, she said, is to have the patients pay the doctors directly then submit their own forms, putting patients in control of their information.
“Doctors that don’t file electronic insurance claims have the right to establish their own privacy policies for their practice,” Vliet told WND. “We did that.”
In her own practice, a patient’s medical records are sent only to the patient, she said.
Doctors, she said, can help on that front.
Patients can tell an insurance company there are details they don’t need in order to process a claim. What they do need is the diagnosis, physician’s name, diagnosis code and a few other details, she said.
Patients can limit the information provided under the HIPPA release, a form in which a patient approves the data-sharing processes that are required for electronic claims submissions.
Simply specify on the form which information a doctor can share before signing, she suggested.
Consumers, she explained, don’t realize that signing a blanket authorization gives the doctors carte blanche to provide every detail an insurance company demands.
This is where the suspicious questions come into play: Do you have a gun in your home? Are you depressed today?
Those questions usually have nothing to do with the patient’s ailment.
“They start compiling databases to be used later,” she said.
Bureaucrats could review responses to such questions and determine if someone is mentally unstable, needs to be referred to a psychiatrist or have a guardian appointed for Social Security benefits.
It also may provide bureaucrats with talking points to deny aggressive care.
The system uses doctors as agents of the state to compile personal information. Vliet warned it’s a “slippery slope” to the government determining who gets medical treatment and who doesn’t.
She warned in her commentary that three developments portend serious danger to medical privacy.
The first was the government’s takeover of privacy rights. The TARP program required physicians to use electronic medical records and send them to the government without a patient’s permission.
And, she said, TARP set up the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, to create a national database of electronic medical records for each person in the United States.
“The medical information compiled in the database would then be used by the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) to decide which treatments would be allowed based on such factors as age, weight, health condition, life expectancy and “quality adjusted life years” (QALYs). In effect, this set up the medical care rationing mechanism similar to those operating in the British and Canadian single-payer, socialized medical systems. Your own medical data are then used against you to deny treatment you may need but the government decides is ‘unnecessary’ or too costly,” she wrote.
Then came the data breach of Facebook information, followed by the All of Us program announcement.
“Patients must be proactive in protecting medical privacy, realizing that much privacy has already been lost when seeking ‘insurance’ payment for medical care, whether private or government insurance like Medicare and Medicaid,” she wrote.
“Ronald Reagan prophetically warned in 1961: ‘One of the traditional methods of imposing statism or socialism upon a people has been by way of medicine. It is very easy to disguise a medical program as a humanitarian project.’ As the world saw with Nazi Germany’s horrific medical ‘experiments’ on Jews and others deemed ‘undesirables,’ it may sound ‘beneficial’ to undertake ‘research’ for the ‘common good,’ but such laudable goals can easily be perverted to objectionable or even diabolical uses,” she said.
Vliet has been raising such issues for years.
When TARP was passed, she called it a “staggering invasion of your personal healthcare privacy happened with little notice and hardly any press comment.”
She spotlighted the provision to require doctors to send patient records directly to the “health czar” without the patient’s permission.
“The result? Government controls access to your medical records,” she wrote then. “The obvious risk is that bureaucrats can leak your medical information for political purposes.”