What you don’t know about your own medical history could hurt you – or worse. According to the Wall Street Journal, 80,000 Americans die every year because doctors don’t have the right medical records for their patients.
Files kept on you by doctors, hospitals, and insurance companies might contain inaccurate information that leads to improper care by medical professionals. Your medical records may also contain accurate information that you need to know … and that data pirates don’t.
For both privacy and wellness reasons, you need to take charge of your medical records.
The system is set up to shut patients out of their own files by default. However, proactive patients can request and obtain their records.
Your Information Is Your Right to Obtain
A coalition of consumer and medical groups organized by the National Partnership for Women & Families aims to help more people access their medical data. They have launched a campaign called GetMyHealth-Data. They offer consumers online resources to help them obtain and access their own medical records.
According to GetMyHealthData, you have the right to “get a copy of your health information from most doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers such as pharmacies and nursing homes, as well as from your health insurance plan.”
How do you assert your right to access your information? Find out below…
Check Your MIB Medical File
In an effort to cut down on fraud and other costs, insurance companies have compiled data on millions of patients and consolidated all the information for easy access. Medical errors are surprisingly widespread, and one tiny error in your medical file could cause you to lose your insurance or be misdiagnosed.
If you have health or life insurance, chances are good that the so-called Medical Information Bureau (MIB) has one or more files on your medical history. You have a right to see that file, and it’s a good idea to check on this information from time to time to make sure nothing erroneous winds up in your file.
You can request to see your file by visiting MIB’s website (www.mib.com) or calling 866-692-6901. The sooner you can spot a problem, the more likely it can be fixed before something goes wrong.
Urge Your Physician to Opt Out of This Marketing Database
The American Medical Association (AMA) exerts tremendous political power. It also employs heavy marketing machinery. One of the AMA’s most financially valuable tools is its ability to tap into databases kept by physicians for targeted marketing.
Your doctor may not even know that his files are being used for this purpose. You can suggest to your doctor that he submit a Do Not Contact and a Do Not Release request with the AMA.
According to the AMA, “A Do Not Contact restriction on a Physician Masterfile record ensures that the physician’s information will not be released for purposes of marketing…” And a Do Not Release request “prohibits the AMA from releasing the physician’s Physician Masterfile information for any reason.”
New Coding System, New Data Mining of Patients
In October, the federal government mandated a new coding system for all medical procedures. Nearly every conceivable ailment and treatment will have to be correctly coded by medical providers and entered into a database. The number of standard codes increases from 14,000 to 68,000. For inpatient hospital procedures, the number of codes soars from 4,000 to 87,000.
According to, CNSNews, “These codes, part of a government and corporate ‘big data’ research agenda, will allow end-to-end profiling and analysis of patients and doctors…”
Bypass Obamacare’s Data Collection Dictates
Under Obamacare, the federal government has expanded its effort to compile data about patients. President Obama and the Democrats are pushing to nationalize and computerize all medical recordkeeping, making it easy for just about anyone with dishonorable intentions to get ahold of your most sensitive data.
Even without the legislation’s new privacy threats, most people don’t realize how “open” their medical records already are. Your medical records may include: information about family relationships (including data on adopted children), information on children conceived artificially or whether a patient is infertile, has had sexually transmitted diseases, details of sexual
behavior, or any substance abuse.
It can also include the private thoughts, feelings, or emotions expressed by your doctor including his impressions and speculations on you which may be totally unfounded.
Your Medical History Can Be Used Against You In Ways It Could Not Before
These records are critically important and may affect important parts of your life such as whether you or a child will be admitted to certain educational institutions or whether or not your boss will decide to hire you (since sick employees are bad for the company health program and less apt to show up for work consistently).
You can’t assume that what you tell your doctor won’t be used against you by an insurance company, an employer, or the government. You should give him all the information he needs to treat you, but no more. If he asks about activities or lifestyle choices that you’d rather keep private, then you are within your rights to decline to answer.
You should also find a doctor who won’t demand your Social Security number or who will let you use a different identifying number instead. That’s difficult to find these days, but not impossible. The growing field of concierge medicine offers patients customized care with a personal touch. By paying in cash and avoiding going through insurance, you can greatly increase your medical privacy.