Obamacare and confidentiality

One of the features of Obamacare is to require electronic medical records, which will supposedly save lots of money by allowing doctors of all types to plug into your medical history.  That creates, though, a vast network under government control that violates the principle, enshrined in the Hippocratic Oath, of physician/patient confidentiality.  And the required medical records include “social questions,” asking every American detailed questions about things like your sex life and whether or not you have ever taken drugs.  Privacy activists, from both the left and the right, are alarmed.

From Betsy McCaughey,  Obamacare will question your sex life | New York Post:

‘Are you sexually active? If so, with one partner, multiple partners or same-sex partners?”

Be ready to answer those questions and more the next time you go to the doctor, whether it’s the dermatologist or the cardiologist and no matter if the questions are unrelated to why you’re seeking medical help. And you can thank the Obama health law.

“This is nasty business,” says New York cardiologist Dr. Adam Budzikowski. He called the sex questions “insensitive, stupid and very intrusive.” He couldn’t think of an occasion when a cardiologist would need such information — but he knows he’ll be pushed to ask for it.

The president’s “reforms” aim to turn doctors into government agents, pressuring them financially to ask questions they consider inappropriate and unnecessary, and to violate their Hippocratic Oath to keep patients’ records confidential.

Embarrassing though it may be, you confide things to a doctor you wouldn’t tell anyone else. But this is entirely different.

Doctors and hospitals who don’t comply with the federal government’s electronic-health-records requirements forgo incentive payments now; starting in 2015, they’ll face financial penalties from Medicare and Medicaid. The Department of Health and Human Services has already paid out over $12.7 billion for these incentives.

Dr. Richard Amerling, a nephrologist and associate professor at Albert Einstein Medical College, explains that your medical record should be “a story created by you and your doctor solely for your treatment and benefit.” But the new requirements are turning it “into an interrogation, and the data will not be confidential.”

Lack of confidentiality is what concerned the New York Civil Liberties Union in a 2012 report. Electronic medical records have enormous benefits, but with one click of a mouse, every piece of information in a patient’s record, including the social history, is transmitted, disclosing too much.

The social-history questions also include whether you’ve ever used drugs, including IV drugs. As the NYCLU cautioned, revealing a patient’s past drug problem, even if it was a decade ago, risks stigma.

On the other end of the political spectrum is the Goldwater Institute, a free-market think tank. It argues that by requiring everyone to have health insurance and then imposing penalties on insurers, doctors and hospitals who don’t use the one-click electronic system, the law is violating Americans’ medical privacy.

The administration is ignoring these protests from privacy advocates. On Jan. 17, HHS announced patients who want to keep something out of their electronic record should pay cash. That’s impractical for most people.

There’s one question they can’t ask: Thanks to the NRA, Section 2716 of the ObamaCare law bars the federal government from compelling doctors and hospitals to ask you if you own a firearm.

But that’s the only question they can’t be told to ask you.

 

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X