Your Prescription Information Isn’t Really Private

Image courtesy of (Chris Rief)

Who sees your prescription information? No, there are more people involved than just the pharmacists and technicians at your local drugstore and your doctor and his or her employees. Information about your medications can also end up with data miners, insurance companies other than your health insurer, and companies that your pharmacy does business with.

Sometimes you can opt out of these, and sometimes you can’t. Your pharmacy may let you opt out of ads on request. Prescription data with names scrubbed out is often used in health research, for example, and we even posted a story based on research on prescribing data from Medicare patients earlier today.

You can’t really opt out of having your information shared when you apply for life, disability, or long-term care insurance, but you can get a copy of whatever information was shared if you have applied for any of those insurance types recently.

MedPoint: 844-225-8047
Milliman Intelliscript: 877-211-4816
Medical Information Bureau: 866-692-6901

The results range from things that are innocent but annoying, like ads in the mail for blood sugar testing supplies, to things like identity theft that can be devastating. Your drugstore might sell your information directly to the makers of drugs and medical supplies, or you may end up in a database when data miners are able to match up prescription data stripped of patients’ identities with other publicly available information about your shopping habits and interests.

If you take care to shred all paperwork with your name and address on it but toss prescription bottles straight in the trash, you’re missing what could be a big privacy breach. Our privacy-minded pals down the hall at Consumer Reports recommend redacting your personal information on old prescription bottles with a black marker, or peeling off and tearing up the labels.

Your Prescriptions Are Not a Secret [Consumer Reports]
Your Medical Data What You Need to Know Now [Consumer Reports Health]

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