After three years of preparation, today is “Implementation Day” for a signature piece of the Affordable Care Act – the day that health insurance exchanges or “Marketplaces” will be open for individuals seeking coverage. There has been a lot of attention from Congress – and the American public – regarding the integrity and readiness of these insurance marketplaces, especially in terms of privacy. The good news though is that not only has privacy been a core consideration in the design of the Marketplaces, but also that health care privacy reform has made significant progress over the past four years.
The foundation for health care reform began in 2009 with enactment of the economic stimulus legislation and its provisions advancing the adoption and use of electronic health records systems by health care providers. Through increased collection and sharing of digital health data, the objective is to reduce costs and support the delivery of better care, but increasing the electronic flow of sensitive health information poses risks to privacy. Now with the introduction of health insurance Marketplaces that require eligibility verification using sensitive data, additional privacy concerns around health care reform have been raised.
While the U.S. has a less-than-stellar record on adequately addressing consumer and health privacy, the last four years have brought solid progress, even though privacy provisions are still far from ideal. Some of the highlights include:
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