Between you and your doctor

National health care is going to take excellence out of American medicine, and give the state access to your most private records. Americans are concerned.

A new survey finds that "more than 90 percent of respondents called online privacy a "really" or "somewhat" important issue."  
The survey of more than 1,000 Americans examines issues regarding behavioral targeting in digital advertising, and indicates that "the issue is a dominant concern for Americans."  Such concerns may play a role in the coming congressional debate on nationalizing health care.  

A recent column in 
American Spectator succinctly summarizes the concern with national health care, and points out two areas of vulnerability in the drive for a government-run system: 

It will mean also the destruction of our health care system, as investment in both human and physical capital, meaning the best in doctors and surgeons, as well as new high tech medicine, medical equipment, and drug therapies, is driven away by big government control squeezing out profits and opportunities for economic gain in health care.  The key vulnerabilities include taxes, given that a real, new health care entitlement will require a massive increase in taxes on working people, violating Obama's campaign promises. The other big vulnerability is precisely the disastrous effect of such a system on health care quality. The loss ultimately of all consumer freedom and control over health care to the government and its rationing schemes was a powerful argument as well in stopping Hillary's health-care takeover.

There is a third area, in addition to tax increases and quality of care, on which the government health care plan is vulnerable, and that is privacy concerns.  Already included in the stimulus bill is $3 Billion to jumpstart efforts to computerize health records, but, according to CNSNews, though the legislation says there is a

"prohibition on sale of electronic health records or protected health information," there are five pages of exceptions to the prohibition that include research, treatment of an individual, or a decision by the Secretary of Health and Human Services to waive the prohibition.  A further concern is that there is no opt-out on having your personal medical records entered into the national network and having them "shared - without your consent - with over 600,000 covered entities."  [italics mine]

President Obama and Rahm Emanuel are well aware of the privacy issue and its potential effect on health care legislation, and they will no doubt do their best to distract attention from it.  While Emanuel has said "As we move forward on health information technology, it is absolutely essential that an individual's most personal and vulnerable information is protected," Obama's position is as one might expect:

Advisers to Mr. Obama say he favors strong privacy protections but does not want the dispute to slow down the bill.

Somehow any reassurance from these two does not make me especially comfortable on the issue. Government health care proponents' dream of an electronic health information network with our most personal medical information flowing to government wizards who will decide what treatment we are allowed could be a nightmare for the rest of us. If the prospect of advertisers knowing our online behavior and buying habits is that alarming to more than 90 per cent of survey respondents, then the prospect of personal medical concerns that are discussed between you and your doctor in the privacy of the doctor's office being shared with a federal bureaucracy, with life and death power rivaling that of the IRS, is more than alarming.
National health care is going to take excellence out of American medicine, and give the state access to your most private records. Americans are concerned.

A new survey finds that "more than 90 percent of respondents called online privacy a "really" or "somewhat" important issue."  
The survey of more than 1,000 Americans examines issues regarding behavioral targeting in digital advertising, and indicates that "the issue is a dominant concern for Americans."  Such concerns may play a role in the coming congressional debate on nationalizing health care.  

A recent column in 
American Spectator succinctly summarizes the concern with national health care, and points out two areas of vulnerability in the drive for a government-run system: 

It will mean also the destruction of our health care system, as investment in both human and physical capital, meaning the best in doctors and surgeons, as well as new high tech medicine, medical equipment, and drug therapies, is driven away by big government control squeezing out profits and opportunities for economic gain in health care.  The key vulnerabilities include taxes, given that a real, new health care entitlement will require a massive increase in taxes on working people, violating Obama's campaign promises. The other big vulnerability is precisely the disastrous effect of such a system on health care quality. The loss ultimately of all consumer freedom and control over health care to the government and its rationing schemes was a powerful argument as well in stopping Hillary's health-care takeover.

There is a third area, in addition to tax increases and quality of care, on which the government health care plan is vulnerable, and that is privacy concerns.  Already included in the stimulus bill is $3 Billion to jumpstart efforts to computerize health records, but, according to CNSNews, though the legislation says there is a

"prohibition on sale of electronic health records or protected health information," there are five pages of exceptions to the prohibition that include research, treatment of an individual, or a decision by the Secretary of Health and Human Services to waive the prohibition.  A further concern is that there is no opt-out on having your personal medical records entered into the national network and having them "shared - without your consent - with over 600,000 covered entities."  [italics mine]

President Obama and Rahm Emanuel are well aware of the privacy issue and its potential effect on health care legislation, and they will no doubt do their best to distract attention from it.  While Emanuel has said "As we move forward on health information technology, it is absolutely essential that an individual's most personal and vulnerable information is protected," Obama's position is as one might expect:

Advisers to Mr. Obama say he favors strong privacy protections but does not want the dispute to slow down the bill.

Somehow any reassurance from these two does not make me especially comfortable on the issue. Government health care proponents' dream of an electronic health information network with our most personal medical information flowing to government wizards who will decide what treatment we are allowed could be a nightmare for the rest of us. If the prospect of advertisers knowing our online behavior and buying habits is that alarming to more than 90 per cent of survey respondents, then the prospect of personal medical concerns that are discussed between you and your doctor in the privacy of the doctor's office being shared with a federal bureaucracy, with life and death power rivaling that of the IRS, is more than alarming.