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Home > Privacy and Business > Medical Privacy > Current Issues: > National Individual Health Identifier


National Individual Health Identifier

Without question, governments became the biggest consumers of extremely private information about individuals when they got in the business of health care. Just to administer health care programs, the federal and state governments must collect the names, addresses, telephone numbers, genders, ages, income levels, medical conditions, medical histories, providersí names, and much more information about every single beneficiary.

The prospect of this much information centralized in one federal government database was evidently too much for the American people when they rejected the 1994 Clinton Health Care plan, which proposed a government-issued medical ID card on which all Americansí private medical information would be stored.

Unfortunately, a weakened version of the government-issued medical ID was slipped into law a few years later as part of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). This law required the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to create a National Individual Health Identifier. The ugly specter of a national health database remains.

The National Individual Health ID could so easily be used in thousands of pernicious ways that Congress has allotted no funds for carrying out the plan and the Secretary of HHS has taken almost no steps to implement it. A National Individual Health ID is the law of the land, however, and the U.S. federal government remains a significant threat to medical privacy.


Links:

Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2001 (House of Representatives) Congressional Record (June 13, 2000)

Can You Trust the Ministry of Privacy? by Solveig Singleton, Cato Daily Commentary (August 25, 1998)

Comments? comments@privacilla.org (Subject: UniformHealthID)

[updated 9/18/00]



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