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Health Insurance Reform Mythbuster: Invasions of Privacy?

Posted on by Karina

Health insurance reform opponents continue to spread myths about components of America's Affordable Health Choices Act. This time they are claiming the bill is a risk to the privacy of Americans' personal health and financial information. The facts disprove their distortions.

Myth #1: Under the House bill, federal bureaucrats will have direct, real-time access to Americans' individual bank accounts.

Fact: The nonpartisan FactCheck.org concludes that this prevalent myth is FALSE:

This section aims to simplify electronic payments for health services, the same sort of electronic payments that already are common for such things as utility bills or mortgage payments. The bill calls for the secretary of Health and Human Services to set standards for electronic administrative transactions that would “enable electronic funds transfers, in order to allow automated reconciliation with the related health care payment and remittance advice.”

Nothing in the bill gives the federal government access to your bank account. There is no mention of individual bank accounts in the bill. The section of the bill that health care reform opponents point to simply encourages the development of standards to encourage electronic payments between health care providers and insurance companies. Administrative simplification measures such as these save billions of dollars each year. This section has nothing to do with an individual's bank account.

Myth #2: Under the House bill, federal bureaucrats will have access to Americans' personal health care records.

Fact: The Center for American Progress Action Fund concludes that this prevalent myth is FALSE:

This claim is false. The purpose of this provision (Div A, Title I, Sec 163) is to minimize paperwork and maximize financial transparency by letting patients know how much they owe up front instead of ending up with unexpected, astronomical medical bills later.

There is nothing in the bill that gives “federal bureaucrats” access to anyone's personal health care records. The section of the bill that health care reform opponents point to is on a completely different topic — simply encouraging health care providers to let patients know at the point of service what the patient's financial responsibility is for that service.

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