In 1999, the California HealthCare Foundation (CHCF) released a groundbreaking study of Americans’ attitudes and behaviors concerning health privacy. The study found that nearly three out of four Americans had significant concerns about the privacy and confidentiality of their medical records. Six years later, following implementation of national privacy protections under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the President’s push to adopt electronic medical records, a CHCF survey plumbs consumers’ attitudes about the privacy of their health information.
Conducted by Forrester Research, the survey reveals that — despite federal protections under HIPAA — two in three Americans are concerned about the confidentiality of their personal health information and are largely unaware of their privacy rights.
In addition, one in eight patients reportedly engages in behavior to protect personal privacy, presenting a potential risk to their health. More than half (52%) of respondents are concerned that employers may use health information to limit job opportunities, highlighting the implications of the privacy issue.
Yet despite these concerns, consumers report a favorable view of new health technology, with a majority (59%) willing to share personal health information when it could result in better medical treatment.
As efforts to develop a nationwide health information network proceed, unaddressed concerns about personal privacy could have major implications.