The federal government is not as rich and all-powerful as we sometimes think: while the Office for Civil Rights of the the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has the responsibility of dealing with possible violations of patients’ privacy by medical care providers, it doesn’t have tee budget to post the warning letters that it sends after a single breach online. Is that useful information that the government should know about? Experts say that it is. [More]
Now that we live in a world where it seems everything can be rated — from your restaurant experience to your root canal — privacy issues are popping up in unexpected places. Like in health care providers’ responses to negative reviews from patients on Yelp, for example. [More]
The future’s really cool sometimes: We get to use all sorts of new technology tools and cloud-based services to help us manage our health. That constellation of apps, trackers, tests, and gadgets gives huge insight into our health and bodies, which is useful to millions… but it also lets a stunning amount of the most personal data out into the wild, unregulated and uncontrolled. [More]
When a college student seeks medical treatment at a campus healthcare facility, they probably expect they will be afforded the same discretion as all consumer are under HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). But thanks to a separate, often conflicting federal law, that isn’t always the case. [More]
If you don’t mind trading your shopping history and personal data for free stuff or discounts, loyalty card programs offer some great benefits if you were going to be loyal to a business in the first place. The question is, how much of your privacy are you willing to give up for some discounts? [More]
Even in this era of over-sharing and supposed transparency, most people don’t want their medical files shared with anyone who doesn’t absolutely need to see them. But all it takes is one person to not pay attention when stuffing envelopes for private medical documents to be shared with the world. [More]
Last January, a woman in California says she was billed by a hospital for a treatment she never received. She took her complaint to the folks at California Watch, who published a story about her predicament. But when a local newspaper went to verify the information, the hospital’s CEO had absolutely no problem showing up at the reporter’s door to rifle through that patient’s file without her permission. [More]
There are two important lessons that we can take away from M’s e-mail about trying to return an unopened, unused blood glucose meter to Target. First: never, ever, ever purchase a gift for someone at Target without also giving them the receipt. Consider laminating it, then stapling it to the recipient’s forehead. Second: when you receive a marketing call, think critically about who could have sold your name, or whether the entire call might be a scam. [More]
Sarek tells the story of how he was able finally get a “certificate of creditable coverage” from his COBRA administrators. After many moons of pleas, what it finally took was writing a physical letter to the presidents of each four companies at the same time. At the top of the letter was the address of each of the other companies so that all knew that he was showing off their unsightly bits to the other. [More]
If someone says “HIPAA” and you think they might be talking about a herd of hippos, you got some reading to do. The “Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act” protects the health insurance workers and their families when they lose their jobs, and also protects the confidentiality of patients’ records. Like all big laws, it’s a bit of a thicket to navigate, so the World Privacy Forum just published a “Patient’s Guide to HIPAA” to help chop your way through it. Check it out and bone up on your rights.
Blue Cross Blue Shield Of Georgia Sends 202,000 Letters Containing Personal Information To The Wrong Addresses
Well, if you’re having a bad day at work, rest assured that someone in Georgia is having a worse one. The Journal-Constitution is reporting that 202,000 Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia customers had their personal information exposed, including (in some cases) their social security numbers, thanks to an error in the computerized mailing system. The system was apparently used before it was tested.
When Eric Drew was in the hospital being treated for leukemia five years ago, a lab technician stole his personal information and began opening up credit card accounts in his name.