Blues’ claims database illegal, unethical: reader

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association’s illegal and unethical plan to sell data to large employers on all 79 million Blues enrollees against their will, without informed consent, and with no way to opt-out cannot be “cleaned up” by claiming that the data is “de-identified” or by adding unpaid advisers from government or private industry to contribute “research-based insights” to justify their theft and sale of sensitive health and claims data. Forced participation in research is abhorrent. America is not yet a gulag. “Research” conducted in this fashion will drive people away from participation in the healthcare system. No one wants secret snooping in his or her most sensitive personal records of all: medical records.
Opinion piece: BCBS’ secondary use and sale of all 79 million enrollees’ medical and claims data is still theft and misuse even if they are selling or giving the data to researchers. BCBS has consent to use enrollees’ data only to pay claims, nothing else. It’s illegal and unethical for BCBS to decide to use the data they were entrusted with for other purposes without informed consent.”Forced participation in research is abhorrent. America is not yet a gulag. “Research” conducted in this fashion will drive people away from participation in the healthcare system. No one wants secret snooping in his or her most sensitive personal records of all: medical records.
Face it, the Blue Health Initiative is intended to be a major profit center for the Blues; it is not a research database. Imagine the potential revenue from selling this far richer and more detailed data than the prescription data IMS Health sells, which netted them $1.75 billion in revenue in 2005.
First, it is critical to point out the obvious: It is impossible to de-identify health data. There are simply too many unique pieces of identifying information, dates and places that cannot all be removed from records.
A medical record of a 55-year-old person who had a CT scan at Seton Hospital in Austin on April 15, 2007, could easily be re-identified by his/her employer, even by other employers like Dell. How many employees were absent from work that day? How many employees submitted medical claims for that day? His/her data could be re-identified by other large employers who could easily match him/her up by using programs to match public voter registration databases with health databases for re-identification. Then they may not hire that person.
{Opinion piece: BCBS’ secondary use and sale of all 79 million enrollees’ medical and claims data is still theft and misuse even if they are selling or giving the data to researchers. BCBS has consent to use enrollees’ data only to pay claims, nothing else. It’s illegal and unethical for BCBS to decide to use the data they were entrusted with for other purposes without informed consent. ~ Dr. Deborah Peel, Patient Privacy Rights}

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