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Secret Weapon To Protect Medical Privacy
Medical information is among the most private personal information. New healthcare laws in the US essentially require doctors to make all of their records electronic and store them in government databases. This poses a serious threat to patient privacy rights. There is one way to find private hospitals where your information will not be entered into US databases and you may even get better health care for much less.
Risk to Patient Privacy Rights
Having detailed medical information housed in one massive database makes it one of the most lucrative targets for hackers. It will not only contain health information (potentially worth its weight in digital gold to the highly ethical pharmaceutical industry), but it will also include demographic information, like race, ethnicity, primary language, and gender. This information is golden to marketers. And that says nothing of its value to identity thieves.
Government databases are well known as extremely poorly protected. They aren’t even capable of protecting classified and top secret material. I hate to think how well they will protect our medical data. It may only be a matter of time before our medical histories are public information.
There Is Bound To Be Abuse
The law permits use of the data for clinical research, even if the subject objects to the use of their data. North Carolina sheriffs have already asked to browse prescription records to look for potential pain medication abusers. With even more data available, who knows what kinds of crimes they think your medical records might be evidence of.
About 12 million people will have to have access to such a health system, from heart surgeons to grocery store pharmacists. It is inevitable that one of those 12 million will be able to accidentally or purposefully leak massive amounts of data.
And, if the US social services system becomes anything like the UK system, the government will be able to take away people’s kids for being overweight or for a learning disability. Having all medical records searchable means that many more innocent people with unfortunate genes could be the target of overzealous social workers.
Protect Patient Privacy Rights
To prevent medical procedures or conditions from showing up in US medical record databases, use offshore medical facilities. Seeking treatment in private hospitals in other countries is often called medical tourism and can be far more beneficial than just protecting privacy. Many hospitals in places like New Zealand, Thailand, India, Mexico and Costa Rica, cater to wealthy foreigners. In many cases the doctors are trained in the US. They offer as good, or better, health care than any US facilities and they are usually 50% to 90% cheaper, including all travel expenses like airfare and hotel.
Before seeking medical care abroad, be sure to do extensive research. Although some private hospitals may cater to wealthy travelers, not all hospitals in those countries will be the same. Some will offer substandard care in unhealthy facilities.
Most other countries will not protect patients from medical malpractice, like they do in the US, and pharmaceutical companies may not be liable for injuries from medications like they are in the US. Also, medical information in foreign countries may not be protected as private.
Protect Yourself From Risks
There are several companies that help arrange offshore medical visits to make sure you select the best facilities and doctors. There are also voluntary organizations that certify medical facilities such as the JCI to promote quality care. A considerable amount of research should be done before seeking medical treatment away from home.
Seeking medical treatment abroad can help protect patient privacy rights. Information about those visits will not be automatically entered into the US electronic health record database. Additionally, seeking care offshore can be far less expensive, it can be as good, or better than US care, and you may even have access to many treatments, drugs and procedures that are not permitted in the US. Don’t forget to check out the book How To Vanish for more ways to protect your privacy.
Reprinted with permission from How to Vanish.
Bill Rounds, J.D. is a California attorney. He holds a degree in Accounting from the University of Utah and a law degree from California Western School of Law. He practices civil litigation, domestic and foreign business entity formation and transactions, criminal defense and privacy law. He is a strong advocate of personal and financial freedom and civil liberties.