From credit card purchases to Internet browsing habits and beyond, we have come to understand that nothing is ever really private anymore and data is constantly being collected. It now looks like hospitals are going to try to put some of that data to use.
According to Bloomberg News, you may soon be getting a friendly phone call from your doctor if you cancel your gym memberships, buy a pack of cigarettes, or start purchasing larger clothing sizes. Why? Because hospitals are looking to build robust profiles based on consumer data for current and potential patients.
While advocates of the data collection claim it will allow healthcare providers to stave off illness and potential health problems, liberty-minded Americans question the privacy threats. On radio this morning, Glenn likened the situation to a “sci-fi nightmare.”
“This is the control that we talked about,” Glenn said. “This is exactly the kind of sci-fi nightmare that we warned against during this whole lead-up to Obamacare and everybody said, 'That's not going to happen.’ Well, here it is… Congratulations, America.”
Information compiled by data brokers from public records and credit card transactions can reveal where a person shops, the food they buy, and whether they smoke. The largest hospital chain in the Carolinas is plugging data for 2 million people into algorithms designed to identify high-risk patients, while Pennsylvania’s biggest system uses household and demographic data. Patients and their advocates, meanwhile, say they’re concerned that big data’s expansion into medical care will hurt the doctor-patient relationship and threaten privacy.
Acxiom Corp. (ACXM) and LexisNexis are two of the largest data brokers who collect such information on individuals. They say their data are supposed to be used only for marketing, not for medical purposes or to be included in medical records.
While both sell to health insurers, they said it’s to help those companies offer better services to members.
Read the entire Bloomberg report HERE.
“We still don't have anybody really standing up and saying, ‘Hey, how come you are monitoring the American people? How come you have the NSA collect everything, but somehow or another you let the IRS slip through the cracks,” Glenn asked exasperatedly. “But they can track me and the hamburger I might or might not have had at a Wendy's and give that to a hospital and the hospital can then call me and say, ‘Hey, fatso, slow down on the hamburgers.’ That's incredible to me. Absolutely incredible.”
While Pat said the free market should take care of a problem like this because consumers can choose to go to a different doctor or hospital, Glenn wasn’t convinced it is so simple.
“The free market's not going to be allowed to work it out, though,” Glenn concluded. “They are putting so many restrictions on the free market, you know, and I know their goal is to have a single payer healthcare system. That's been the goal the whole time, so you aren't going to have a free market left. We barely have a free market left in this country at this point.”
Front page image courtesy of the AP