Sunday, February 1, 2009

Privacy and Health

One of your classmates picked up the following story in the New York Times and provided the following write-up:

In Sunday’s edition of the New York Times, an editorial titled “Your E-Health Records”( discussed the new electronic health record system and what it meant for individuals’ privacy. While reasons such as lower costs and higher quality are cited for the switch from paper to electronic, this move has also brought up the trade-off of a patient’ privacy. As we have discussed in class, once something is put on the internet there is virtually no getting rid of it. Additionally, hacking into electronic records is infinitely easier than breaking into an office and stealing the paper copies, therefore rendering that “private” information significantly less private.
While Congress is working on passing bills that would ostensibly prevent such abuses, there is no doubt that the opportunities for misuses of private information are now unlimited. The article mentions some examples that I found especially significant, such as the fact that employers, with the now easily acquired health records, might refuse to hire a potential employee with the information that they might be more expensive to cover with health insurance. Such situations only create a more discriminatory work place, allowing employers to exploit personal health as a money-saving technique.
I think this specific area of privacy encroachment is particularly noteworthy because it involves something an individual has no control over. When the government pulls up credit card records or checks what books one has taken out of the library, it is ultimately reviewing actions that an individual has made a conscious decision to execute. However, an individual has clearly less control regarding their personal health. For example, one’s status of being diabetic and therefore as a potential employee might require a more expensive health insurance is not a role he or she has made a conscious decision to undertake. A person should not suffer any repercussions from a situation outside of their control, especially concerning certain unavoidable health issues.

No comments: