Privacy and Validity

Eric Boehm, in a recent post, noted some concerns about Obamacare.

Thanks to new regulations that are part of the federal Affordable Care Act, patients will be asked to disclose more personal information to their doctors—including how often they have sex and how with how many sexual partners.

And once they do, it won’t really be personal information any more.

Similar questions exist for drug use history, and the questions are required of all doctors, from your dermatologist or osteopath to your GP—regardless of the questions’ relevance to the health problem that brought you to the doctor.

On top of that, as Goldwater Institute lawyer, Christina Sandefur, says,

Once you’ve shared your information with a private third party, the Supreme Court has ruled that is fair game for the government[.]

Apocalyptic?  Likely (the Supremes’ rulings on the related matters didn’t exactly say that), but it can’t be casually discounted.  Additionally,

Doctors and hospitals who refuse to participate could be cut off from some federal funds, and individuals who decline to share sensitive information may have to pay the fines…outlined in the federal health care law.

Regardless of the validity of the concerns in Boehm’s column, people—and doctors—will react to those concerns.  Which raises this set of questions:

What will be the validity of the data collected?  At what rate will patients, to protect their privacy while satisfying (their perception of) the letter of the law, falsify their data—deny drug use to their dermatologist, make up answers to questions about their sex lives?  How will the government reconcile patient-provided data that conflict from their dermatologist to their cardiologist to their GP?

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