As a volunteer with both our local hospice and our local hospital, I have to take a class once a year about patient confidentiality. It is so drilled into our heads that we are not to discuss our patients’ medical condition(s), name or even beverage preference that I am afraid to even tell my wife when I’ve been to the hospital to visit someone.
Wife: “Where have you been?”
Me: “Um, happy hour at that really sleazy bar.”
Wife (knowingly): “I hope it’s not cancer.”
So imagine my surprise, then, to learn that anyone signing up for the government’s new health care program has, according to the official documentation, “No reasonable expectation of privacy.”
If I understand this right, I could still go to jail for divulging what I know about a patient’s medical condition to anyone other than the patient without that patient’s written consent, but the government can share all of my information—medical, marital, economical, etc.—with anyone they want and I have no recourse.
What’s really funny about this is that I have friends who claim to not be worried. “The government will protect that information,” they say with a confident laugh that borders on the psychotic. “This is the government!” they reiterate. “What is there to worry about?”
Edward Snowden, anyone?
I thought about starting this paragraph with something like, “You see, when I go to the doctor, I expect the only person to know anything about why I’m there is me, the doctor, the nurse, and maybe that guy with the hacking cough I was talking to the waiting room” but the reality is I DON’T GO TO THE DOCTOR.
No, it’s not a religious thing. Nor am I afraid of doctors. It’s just that I don’t get sick. Not sick enough to go to a doctor, anyway. Oh sure, I’ll get a cold or two every year, but then they go away. What could I look forward to if I went to the doctor about my cold? It would go away in the same amount of time, plus or minus whatever I caught in his waiting room, and I would be out money and time for my troubles.
I used to be the insurance company’s dream client. Lots of money paid in premiums, nothing paid out in care. When the insurance company sent me one of those mass-printed birthday cards with my name misspelled wishing me “another great year”, I figured they meant it.
Not any more. Insurance companies have been ordered by the government to drive up their prices, drive down their level of service, and drive as many people to the government teat as they can. Doctors are being driven out of business, hospitals are closing, and all our medical records will be on an easily-hackable government database.
At least my president has my back. Sort of. He’s kind of busy taking a selfie right now but, as soon as he’s done with that and with making another speech about himself, I’m sure he’ll pivot back to health care and fix all this up fastly and furiously.