The days of doctor/patient privacy are dwindling as more agencies and companies wield technology to peer into your medical records.
Privacy advocates are now bracing for full implementation of the Affordable Health Care Act, which calls for more electronic record keeping and more opportunities for database mining of health records by marketers, credit agencies and law enforcement.
The latest example of this is the FICO medical adherence score. The credit rating company started collecting prescription information in 2011 and applying proprietary algorithms to determine who is most at risk for misusing their medication.
The company said it uses the information to help health professionals identify those at risk for under-using or over-using medicine.
Privacy advocates argue this information can easily be used to set health care costs or determine creditworthiness.
HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, was supposed to put our medical information under lock and key.
Privacy attorney Lee Tien, of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said the boundaries aren't strong enough.
"Loophole might be too strong a word," Tien said. "But there are channel flows of data to the government that are not sufficiently protected."
HIPAA is supposed to protect us.
But bill collectors, law enforcement, Homeland Security, attorneys, auditors, accountants, storage facilities, employers and clearing houses that process insurance payments all get varying degress of access to our medical records, according to the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.
Currently, the Medical Adherence Score is not accessible to the public. Tien said people should think carefully before revealing medical information on the internet via symptom checkers or health assessment tests.
"That data is no longer just in your hands, it's in their hands," Tien said. "There is a lot of free stuff on the internet that we love, but there is a catch, and it's usually your privacy."
If you would like to reclaim some control over your medical information, check out the links listed below: