10 Nov 2013

Bye-Bye Privacy The other problem with HealthCare.gov.

Americans are methodically dealing with the Kübler-Ross stages of Obama-care grief, with our national healing process moving briskly through roughly one stage per week: (1) denial upon realizing that the website HealthCare.gov didn’t work; (2) anger at the realization that the technical back-end of the exchanges is as dysfunctional as the front-end of the site; (3) shock at the cancellation of plans and increase of premiums; and (4) depression at the prospect of losing access to doctors, too. We’re ready to move on to the fifth stage: acceptance that privacy will also be a casualty of HealthCare.gov.


Justin Hadley was perhaps the first consumer to witness this breach. As was reported by the Heritage Foundation, Hadley is a North Carolina resident who used to buy his insurance from Blue Cross Blue Shield on the individual market. In September, Blue Cross Blue Shield informed him that, thanks to Obamacare, they were canceling his policy. Hadley went to HealthCare.gov and was one of the lucky few able to register with the system. He was rewarded when a letter popped up onscreen. The letter was made out to someone else​—​one Thomas Dougall, of Elgin, South Carolina​—​and it contained Dougall’s contact information and notes on his and his family’s eligibility to buy insurance on the exchanges. When Hadley reached out to Dougall to inform him of the mistake, Dougall was shocked.

He shouldn’t have been. When members of Congress questioned Kathleen Sebelius about privacy concerns last month, the secretary of health and human services protested, “I would tell you we are storing the minimum amount of data, because we think that’s very important. The hub is not a data collector.”


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