Privacy Issues Complicate Obama’s Plan to Link Electronic Medical Records and Health Data

In the past decade, personal health information on hundreds of thousands of people has been compromised because of security lapses at hospitals, insurance companies and government agencies. These breaches occurred despite federal privacy rules issued under a 1996 law.

Congress is trying to strengthen those privacy protections and make sure they apply to computer records. At the same time, lobbyists for insurers, drug benefit managers and others in the health industry are mobilizing a campaign to persuade Congress that overly stringent privacy protections would frustrate the potential benefits of digital records.

Thus, President Barack Obama’s plan to link up doctors and hospitals with new information technology is imperiled by a bitter dispute over how to protect the privacy of electronic medical records.  Lawmakers, caught in a crossfire of lobbying by the health care industry and consumer groups, have been unable to agree on privacy safeguards that would allow patients to control the use of their medical records.

Rahm Emanuel, the White House Chief of Staff to President Obama, advocated such safeguards when he was a House member from Illinois. “As we move forward on health information technology,” Mr. Emanuel said, “it is absolutely essential that an individual’s most personal and vulnerable information is protected.”  All consumers that pay for insurance or pharmaceuticals should request an annual copy of their medical report files to verify their personal information has not been erroneoulsy bought or sold.
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Insurance Executives Cannot Do Business Without the MIB, Inc.

Medical report files, sold to insurers by the nationwide specialty consumer reporting agencies Medical Information Bureau, Inc. (MIB), Ingenix, Inc., and Milliman, Inc. enable health and life insurance corporations to charge higher premiums and deny coverage to policyholders.  Although consumers dislike these consumer reporting agencies, insurance corporations rely on such companies to provide them with your private data in order to execute underwriting decisions.

What do paid corporate subscribers say about the technology products and services the MIB, Inc. provides to it corporation membership? The MIB, Inc. marketing materials offer the following description:

WHAT MEMBER COMPANIES SAY ABOUT MIB

“I cannot do business without MIB –  it is an irreplaceable source of anti-selection criteria.” VP, Life Underwriting

“MIB always finds something that hasn’t been disclosed.” VP, Individual Medical Underwriting

“We save $58 for every dollar we spend on MIB.” Assistant VP, Underwriting (more…)

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MIB Inc. Catches Consumers Because it Can

Consumer medical report files, sold to insurers by the Medical Information Bureau, Inc. (a/k/a, MIB, MIB Group Inc.) enables health and life insurance corporations to charge higher premiums and power the technology behind rescission of coverage.

Alarmingly, your medical report files may include both medical and non-medical information about you.  For example, personal data collected by the Medical Information Bureau (MIB) may include medical conditions, credit report history, driving records, criminal activity, drug use, sexual orientation, participation in hazardous sports, and personal or family genetic history.

For insurance corporations that subscribe to the MIB, Inc. exchange, the MIB, Inc. provides tools that evaluate, rate, and track insurance applicants and policy holders.  The modern underwriting scheme depends on the economics of identifying risk and charging appropriate premiums to ensure fiscal viability for the corporation.  At the heart of electronic underwriting is the MIB, Inc. Productivity Suite of tools, including the Insurance Activity Index, Request for Details, Checking Service, and Follow-Up Service. (more…)

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Video – First Lady Michelle Obama Explains that Health Insurance Reform Matters to Women

First Lady Michelle Obama explains why Health Insurance Reform matters to women. Watch First Lady Michelle Obama explain why Health Insurance Reform matters to women.

The First Lady says that, in some states, maternity care is not covered because pregnancy can be seen as a pre-existing condition.  Worse, it’s even legal in some states to deny a woman coverage because shes been a victim of domestic violence.
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The Insurance Industry Shares Intelligence through the MIB, Inc.

The Medical Information Bureau Inc. (a/k/a, MIB Group, Inc., a/k/a, MIB, Inc., a/k/a, MIB Solutions, Inc.) collects and furnishes information on consumers to all Medical Information Bureau (MIB) member corporations for use in the insurance underwriting process.  According to MIB, Inc. marketing materials,

“MIB, Inc. is the premiere provider of fraud detection information for individually underwritten life, disability income, long term care and critical illness insurance.  MIB member companies rely on its Checking Service for the fast, secure aggregation and  exchange of data to combat fraud, improve underwriting effectiveness and increase product line profitability while ensuring fair pricing for all applicants.”

In addition to an individual’s credit history, data collected by the Medical Information Bureau (MIB) may include medical conditions, driving records, criminal activity, drug use, participation in hazardous sports, and personal or family genetic history, among other facts.

“MIB facilitates this sharing of information among member companies through a proprietary, secure system for data exchange.  This data acts as the vehicle to steer the underwriter’s investigation, providing the insurance industry with a more complete and accurate picture of an insurance applicant’s health situation.  MIB provides underwriters the knowledge they need, when they need it.”

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New Laws Affecting Credit Cards, Credit Reports, and Gift Cards

The Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 (also known as the Credit CARD Act) established sweeping changes intended to help limit deceptive marketing of practices, excessive credit card fees, and hefty interest rate increases.  Starting in 2010, certain corporations will be required to make more disclosures and they face new limits on certain credit card practices.

Every person is entitled to a free credit report every 12 months from each of the four nationwide financial consumer reporting agencies Equifax, Experian, Innovis, and TransUnion.  By Feb. 22, 2010, the Federal Trade Commission must formalize the rules governing this access to prevent deceptive marketing of the credit reports.

The FTC has one proposal that would prohibit the credit bureaus from offering any product or service until after consumers get their free reports.  The law currently permits the credit reporting agencies to advertise their proprietary products and services through the centralized source, in this case AnnualCreditReport.com.

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