This website provides readers an historical perspective on the evolution of various healthcare laws and regulations affecting healthcare freedom and privacy.
For updated information about healthcare freedom and privacy issues, visit Citizens' Council for Health Freedom's website
Browse by Topic

Health Privacy Rights

Do you think that you have a federal right to health privacy? If so, you might be surprised to learn that under the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) medical privacy rule, your personal health information—including past records—can be disclosed to more than 600,000 health-related organizations without your consent . . . (continue reading)

Related articles

Sept. 2010 Massachusetts Requires Doctors, Insurers to Submit Data on Postpartum Depression
Sept. 2010 Proposed Changes to Privacy Rule Won’t Ensure Privacy
Mar. 2010 What Every American Needs to Know about the HIPAA Privacy Rule (Updated March 2010)
6/18/2009 Patient Advocacy Groups Urge Greater Focus on Patients’ Choice and Privacy Rights in Health-Reform Debate
Jun. 2009 Three Health-Freedom Bills Introduced in Congress
Jun. 2009 Act Now to Strengthen and Preserve Your Health Freedom and Privacy
May 2009 FTC Asks for Public Comment on Notification of Health Data Breaches
Mar. 2009 How the Economic Stimulus Law Affects Your Health Privacy Rights
Mar. 2009 A Positive Perspective on Health Privacy Rights
Mar. 2009 Are We Heading Toward a Nationally Linked Electronic Health-Records Network? Take the National Health Information Highway Quiz
2/11/2009 Both House and Senate Versions of the Economic Stimulus Bill Fail to Ensure Patient Consent for Health Privacy
Feb. 2009 Economic Stimulus Bill Mandates Utilization of “an” Electronic Health Record for Every American by 2014
Feb. 2009 Congress Needs to Add Opt-out and Consent Provisions to Health IT to Ensure Quality Health Care
Feb. 2009 Notable & Quotable: HHS’s Comments on Privacy and Quality
2/9/2009 Economic Stimulus Bill Mandates Electronic Health Records for Every Citizen without Opt-out or Patient Consent Provisions
1/15/2009 Economic Stimulus Package and Your Health Privacy
Dec. 2008 Should Medicare Providers Be Forced to Use Electronic Medical Records?
Dec. 2008 Blue Cross Mistakenly Discloses Private Health Information
Nov. 2008 What Every American Needs to Know about the HIPAA Privacy Rule
Nov. 2008 “Broad” Adoption of Electronic Health Records Forthcoming
Jun. 2008 Minn. Governor Protects Genetic-Privacy Rights; Vetoes “DNA Warehouse” Bill
Jun. 2008 Standing Strong for Health-Privacy Rights
May 2008 Anti-Discrimination Bill Inadvertently Legalizes Sharing of Genetic Information Without Patient Consent
May 2008 Large Employers Push Health IT Legislation
May 2008 Will Individuals Store Their Medical Information in a National Health Information Network?
Apr. 2008 Privacy-Conscious Congressman’s Health Data on Stolen Laptop
Apr. 2008 CCHC Urges President Bush to Veto Newborn Genetic Screening Bill (S. 1858); Says Bill Lacks Privacy, Property Rights and Informed Consent Safeguards
Mar. 2008 Who Will Be the Gatekeeper of Personal Health Information?
Feb. 2008 Feds Seek to Harmonize State Health-Privacy Laws
Jan. 2008 “Wired for Health Care Quality Act” Threatens Privacy and Control over Personal Information
Jan. 2008 Microsoft Seeks Patent for System to Remotely Monitor Office Workers
Nov. 2007 Poll Shows Americans Endorse “Consent of the Studied”
Oct. 2007 Microsoft Launches Free HealthVault for Storing and Sharing Medical Information Online
Sept. 2007 Executive Order Paves the Road to “Interoperable” Medical-Records Tracking of 100 Million Americans
Jul. 2007 Should Congress or a Federal “Entity” Establish Your Privacy Rights?
Jun. 2007 Health-Privacy Breaches Challenged in State Courts, Feds Continue to Receive Complaints
May 2007 Forgo Government Care and Seek Private Treatment for Sensitive Issues, Says Concerned Foreign Service Officers
Mar. 2007 Will Bill Gates Help Pave the Way to True Health-Privacy Rights?
Jan. 2007 Americans Are Concerned about Privacy of Electronic Records, Survey Finds
Jan. 2007 Is Insurers’ Plan to Give Patients Personal Health Records a “Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing”?
Jan. 2007 HHS Asks for Comments on Plans for Electronic Health Records and Genomic Medicine: Submit Comments by February 5!
Dec. 2006 What Every Worker Should Know about Electronic Medical Records
Dec. 2006 Massachusetts Universal Health Insurance Raises Questions about Patient Privacy
Dec. 2006 Massachusetts Blue Cross Blue Shield to Collect Mental Health Information
Sept. 2006 Health Privacy Roundup
Sept. 2006 Patient Privacy Group Denounces Blue Cross Blue Shield Plan to Disclose De-identified Data of 79 Million Enrollees
Sept. 2006 Congress Considers Important Health Privacy Legislation: Share Your Views
Jul. 2006 Federal Government Funds Random Home Health Checkups
May 2006 Congress Set to Override State Medical-Privacy Rights
May 2006 Legislation Introduced to Digitize Federal Employee Health Records
Apr. 2006 How Massachusetts’s Health Plan Affects Privacy and Liberty
Apr. 2006 Online Analysis of the Massachusetts Health Plan
Apr. 2006 The Massachusetts Health-Insurance Bill Mandates New Taxes and Privacy Invasions
4/10/2006 What Every American Should Know about the Massachusetts Mandatory Health-Insurance Legislation
Mar. 2006 Body Snatching? Why We Need Informed Consent and True Health Privacy Rights
Feb. 2006 $5.5 Billion in 2007 Budget for Building a “Federal Health Architecture”
Feb. 2006 Congress to Gut State Medical-Privacy Laws?
2/8/2006 Congress Could Vote Soon on a Bill that Abolishes State Health-Privacy Rights: Act Now to Voice Your Own Opinion about H.R. 4157.
Jan. 2006 New York City Begins Tracking and Monitoring Diabetics
Dec. 2005 Survey Shows Most Americans Are Concerned about Health Privacy
Dec. 2005 “Wired for Health Care Quality Act” Deeply Flawed
Nov. 2005 Appeals Court Affirms Weak Federal Privacy Rule, But Opens Door to Stronger State Privacy Laws
Oct. 2005 Is Big Brother Planning to Tag and Track Prescription Drugs Electronically?
Oct. 2005 Strong Supporter of EMRs Considers Presidential Run
Oct. 2005 Electronic Medical Records (EMRs): Trick or a Treat?
Sept. 2005 Government and Industry Groups Increase Push for Electronic Medical Records
Sept. 2005 President’s Message: How Would Washingtonians Want to Be Treated?
Sept. 2005 Prescription for Privacy Invasions
Aug. 2005 Growth in Federal Health Programs Results in Massive Collection of Personal Information
Jul. 2005 HHS Proposes Centralized “System of Records” for Health-Care Investigations
(Submit Public Comments by AUGUST 7!)
Jul. 2005 Medical Laboratories Could Be Compelled to Report Citizens’ Blood-Sugar-Test Results to Local Governments
May 2005 What All Americans Should Consider Regarding H.R. 2234 ("21st Century Health Information Act of 2005”)
May 2005 Hillary Clinton and Newt Gingrich Support Legislation That Could Increase Medical Privacy Risks
Apr. 2005 Should a Federal Committee Recommend Making Your Family’s Genetic History Available on the Internet?
Mar. 2005 Why the Right to Contract Privately Must Be Upheld
Mar. 2005 Most Americans Are Uninformed about Plans for a National Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) System
Mar. 2005 President’s Message: Why I’m Staying Optimistic about Health Privacy (by Sue Blevins)
Feb. 2005 Who’s Shaping Our Genetic Health Policies?
Jan. 2005 What the FDA Won’t Tell You about the VeriChip
Jan. 2005 IMPORTANT REMINDER: Submit Your Comments on the Forthcoming National Electronic Medical-Records Network by JANUARY 18, 2005!
1/6/2005 Hospital Association Urges HHS to Eliminate Citizens Right to Public Health Disclosure Information: Currently, citizens are entitled to know if their health information was disclosed to public health officials for purposes such as tracking communicable diseases or placement in a cancer or other disease registry. But HHS is considering eliminating this right to know.
1/6/2005 Share Your Comments on the Forthcoming National Electronic Medical-Records Network: Do you approve of having your personal health information (including mental-health records and genetic data) linked to a national electronic medical-records network and widely used without your knowledge or permission?
12/11/2004 Update on Unique Health Identifiers (UHIs): Are you ready for a tracking number that could be used to monitor your personal health information from cradle to grave?
11/22/2004 The Federal Government Tells Families to Discuss and Document Health History on Thanksgiving. What should families consider regarding this initiative?
11/22/2004 A Good Way to Spend Thanksgiving?
11/22/2004 No True Health Privacy? Many citizens complaining about medical privacy breaches are not being helped by the federal rule.
11/5/2004 FDA is Planning to Track Dietary Supplements Using Data-Mining Technology
9/13/2004 President Bush Proposes Screening the U.S. Population for Mental Illness
6/14/2004 Will Americans Lose Their Privacy with Electronic Medical Records?
5/20/2004 Can You Have True Health Privacy Under Nationalized Health Care?
4/27/2004 Are You Ready for a National Health ID Number? Rep. Paul calls for repeal of mandated national health ID.
8/14/2003 Five-Page "Notice of Privacy Practices" Reveals Important Information
4/14/2003 Federal Medical Privacy Rule and Tying Games: What does getting a copy of one's own medical records have to do with medical privacy?
4/8/2003 April 14 Federal Medical Privacy Rule is About Sharing Data
3/6/2003 Americans Need to Become Fully Informed about the Federal Medical Privacy Rule: The Institute for Health Freedom sponsored a panel discussion at the National Press Club on March 6 to inform the media, policymakers and public at large about the forthcoming Federal Medical Privacy Rule.
3/6/2003 The Final Federal Medical Privacy Rule: The Definitive Guide.
2/26/2003 Who Decides? How much medical privacy will Americans have when the Federal Medical Privacy Rule takes effect on April 14, 2003? The Institute for Health Freedom is sponsoring a panel discussion at the National Press Club on March 6 to inform the media, policymakers and public at large about the forthcoming Federal Medical Privacy Rule. The Rule, which takes effect on April 14, 2003, is going to drastically change citizens' ability to control the flow of their personal health information.
2/26/2003 Federal Workgroup Meets to Discuss National Health Information Infrastructure (NHII): The federal Workgroup on the National Health Information Infrastructure (NHII) is working to develop a national health-information system and electronic personal medical records for U.S. citizens.
2/26/2003 Background of the NHII and Workgroup: What is a "National Health Information Infrastructure" (NHII)?
1/2/2003 What Every American Needs to Know about Medical Privacy: If you care about medical privacy, you'll want to read this brochure care fully. You're going to hear about these issues eventually, but the Institute for Health Freedom wants you to have this information now so that you (and your family) can take steps to control who has access to your health and genetic information. Are you fully informed about the new federal medical privacy rule? This brochure answers the following critical questions: How did the new federal medical privacy rule come about? How will the federal medical privacy rule affect you and your family? Will you be able to find out if your personal health information is flowing over the Internet and released to others without your permission?
12/3/2002 Citizens are Concerned about Electronic Transmission of Medical Data: "Seventy-seven percent of consumers surveyed say they are concerned with their doctors' sending medical information to an insurance company over the Internet." Even so, soon doctors will be legally required to submit most Medicare claims electronically.
10/31/2002 Will Unique Health Identifiers Become a Reality in the United States? That depends on whether or not Congress continues its moratorium on federal funding for unique health identifiers.
Oct. 2002 The Peril to Our Privacy: How did the federal medical privacy rule come about? Who was behind it? What can Americans do to protect their medical privacy?
10/21/2002 The Truth about the Modified, Final Federal Medical Privacy Rule: An updated analysis of the rule.
10/21/2002 Newly Modified, Final Federal Medical Privacy Rule Eliminates Citizens' Control over Their Personal Health Information: A press release covering the October 21 conference at the National Press Club.
10/16/2002 How Does the Federal Medical Privacy Rule That Went into Effect October 15, 2002 Affect Citizens' Health Privacy?  Join us for a panel discussion to hear several experts discuss this issue.
10/15/2002 Legal Challenge to the Federal Medical Privacy Rule - A law firm representing the American Psychoanalytic Association is considering filing a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Federal Medical Privacy Rule, which takes effect October 15, 2002.
8/26/2002 Your Past, Present and Future Private Medical Records Will Become Open to the Federal Government (HHS), Data-Processing Companies, Insurers, Hospitals, Doctors and Others—Without Your Consent.
8/12/2002 Individuals Lose But Government and Corporations Gain Control over Personal Health & Genetic Information - Bush administration grants data-processing companies and other health care industries new federal regulatory authority to collect and share individuals' personal health information—including genetic information—without individuals' consent.
6/8/2002 When it Comes to Medical Privacy, Notification is Not Equal to Consent - The consent policy gives parents full control over their children's health care, while, in contrast, a notification policy denies such control.
6/8/2002 IHF Press Conference on Federal Medical Privacy Rule
4/2/2002 Bush Administration Calls for Public Input on Final Medical Privacy Rule - Citizens have until April 26, 2002 to submit their comments on proposed changes to the federal medical privacy rule.
Apr. 2002 Update on the Federal Medical Privacy Rule: Questions and Answers - How will proposed changes to the federal medical privacy rule affect your ability to control the flow of your personal health information?
4/15/2002 Medical privacy under assault: Bush administration ignoring pleas to tighten confidentiality - HHS is clearly siding with [health care industry] special interests. Link to article.
3/27/2002 How Will the Federal Medical Privacy Rule Affect Patients' Control Over Personal Health Information? - A panel discussion to find out how the proposed changes will impact patient, government, and industry control over medical information.
1/8/2002 HHS Proposes New "Centralized" Medicare Database - Public has until January 15, 2002 to comment.
8/21/2001 Public Hearing on Federal Medical Privacy Rule and Patient Consent - The federal medical privacy rule went into effect on April 14, 2001 and covers nearly every citizen--whether health care is paid for privately or federally funded.
6/4/2001 Testimony Before the Pennsylvania Senate Communications and High Technology Committee - Simply because we have new technology that facilitates the exchange of medical information electronically does not mean that we should eliminate the important legal concept of informed consent.
5/21/2001 Congressional Briefing on Medical Privacy - On Wednesday, May 16, Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) sponsored a congressional briefing titled "Myths and Facts About Medical Privacy."... The following briefing materials were presented to each of the staff persons who attended the briefing.
5/21/2001 Congressman Paul Introduces Legislation to Repeal Federal Medical Privacy Rule - Allowing government officials to access a private person's medical records without a warrant is a violation of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. . .
4/12/2001 President Bush Orders Final Federal Medical Privacy Rule to Take Effect - The medical industry told HHS the federal medical privacy rule is too costly, while concerned citizens say the rule doesn't go far enough to protect patient privacy.
4/3/2001 Who Owns Your Genetic Information? - Americans concerned about genetic privacy and ownership rights should carefully read consent forms when undergoing medical procedures and treatments.
3/1/2001 HHS Calls for Public Comments on Final Medical Privacy Rule - Share your comments about the final federal medical privacy rule by March 30, 2001.
2/15/2001 The new medical privacy regulations: Will they protect our most personal information? - Link to a Cato Policy Forum available via Real Video.
2/8/2001 The Final Federal Medical Privacy Rule: Myths and Facts - How does the final federal medical privacy rule affect your privacy?
2/6/2001 Senate to Hold "Public" Hearing on Final Medical Privacy Rule - Will True Privacy Advocates' Voices Be Heard?
1/22/2001 Should Community Rights Override Individual Rights to Privacy? A Book Revi ew - The principle that "the community" should balance individual rights and the common good is a euphemism for mob rule.
1/4/2001 IHF Hosts Roundtable Discussion of Patients' Rights - The first principle of the Nuremberg Code is "The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential."
12/22/2000 HHS Releases Its "Spin" on Medical Privacy Rule - The final national medical privacy rule deserves serious analysis and responsible, independent investigation by as many people and organizations as possible.
Fall 2000 Medical Records: For Your Eyes Only? - An illustration.
Sept./Oct. 2000 IHF Holds Press Conference to Release Gallup Survey on Medical Privacy - "Medical research--in any shape or form--is not so lofty an activity that it can afford to disrespect the rights of patients," says Twila Brase.
9/26/2000 Gallup Survey Finds Americans' Concern About Medical Privacy Runs Deep - Key findings include: 91 percent oppose a federal requirement to assign everyone a medical identification number.
Sept. 2000 Public Attitudes Toward Medical Privacy - This report is based on the results of a survey conducted by The Gallup Organization on behalf of the Institute for Health Freedom.
9/19/2000 Gallup Survey on Medical Privacy for Release September 26 - "...we wanted to find out how the general public views the issue [Medical Privacy]."
9/6/2000 Motor Vehicle Administration Has Your Social Security Number . . .and With It, a Whole Lot More - All citizens should be concerned about the proliferating government efforts to obtain their Social Security Numbers (SSNs) without appropriate justification.
8/11/2000 Congress Temporarily Halts Funding of Unique Health Identifier: Will President Clinton Sign It into Law? - Once the temporary moratorium on the Unique Health Identifier expires, Americans sooner or later will likely be assigned a tracking number to monitor their medical records electronically.
6/14/2000 Congress Holds Hearing on Repealing Unique Health Identifier and Limiting Use of Social Security Numbers - Imagine the potential for abuse if an unscrupulous government official is able to access one's complete medical, credit, and employment history by simply typing the citizen's 'uniform identifier' into a database.
Mar./Apr. 2000 Americans Respond to Medical Privacy Regulations - Over 52,000 Americans and organizations responded to proposed medical privacy regulations.
2/16/2000 IHF's Letter to Secretary of Health and Human Services, Donna Shalala - Americans deserve to know the truth about how the proposed federal medical privacy regulations relate to the Unique Health Identifier and whether the rule will limit or increase access to individuals' personal medical information.
2/11/2000 Stop Big Brother From Prying Into Your Medical Records - Here's a new and easy way to tell the federal government how you feel about protecting the privacy of your medical records.
2/3/2000 What's Happening with the "Unique Health Identifier" Plan? - Isn't it ironic that some members of Congress who today push "patients' rights" actually helped pass the 1996 law that will allow the federal government to tag and track each person's medical records electronically?
12/15/1999 Comment Period Extended for Medical Privacy Rule - Americans Have Until February 17, 2000 to Comment on Proposed Medical Privacy Regulations. "Individuals -- not the federal government -- should decide when, where, how and to whom their medical information is disclosed."
Nov./Dec. 1999 Coming Soon. . . Every American Will Be Assigned a "Unique Health Identifier" - Every American will soon be assigned a "unique health identifier" (a patient ID number). How did this all come about? What can be done to stop it?
11/15/1999 What Americans Need To Know About Medical Privacy Regulations - Did you know that under the proposed privacy regulations, individuals will not be able to sue if their medical privacy is invaded?
11/4/1999 Act Now To Protect Your Medical Privacy: Americans Have 60 Days to Comment on Proposed Medical Privacy Rule - The public is being told they have a new right to medical privacy when, in fact, they can't sue or bring a private course of action for damages caused by a breach of confidentiality, under the rule.
10/18/1999 Government Begins Collecting Data on Homebound Seniors & Disabled - What's most astonishing about Medicare's OASIS program is that that the government is not only collecting data on homebound patients, but on their caregivers too! That includes husbands, wives, children, or whoever else assists seniors and the disabled in their homes.
1999 Electronic Privacy Information Center: Medical Record Privacy - Information from your medical records may influence your credit, admission to educational institutions, and employment. It may also affect your ability to get health insurance, or the rates you pay for coverage.
7/22/1999 Attention Medical Privay Advocates: Congress Needs Your Input by August 3! - The debate over medical confidentiality is heating up on Capitol Hill. If you're concerned about your medical privacy, then you need to voice your personal opinion soon!
7/15/1999 Medical Privacy Alert: Just Three Weeks to Act! - Can such vague legislation really guarantee that researchers won't be able to trace back patients' personal information -- including genetic and cellular information?
7/8/1999 Medical Privacy Alert: Congress Faces August 21 Deadline - "Individual medical records, including patients' genetic information, could be disclosed by health insurers to credit card companies and other financial institutions."
7/1/1999 Does Government Need to Know if Grandpa Curses? Heritage and ACLU say NO! - HCFA has yet to explain how any of its objectives can justify overriding the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the requirements of medical ethics, and the federal regulations on research involving human subjects.
6/21/1999 What's Congress Doing About Medical Privacy? - Will Congress pass a bill that truly gives consumers the ability to maintain their medical privacy?
6/8/1999 Are We Headed For A Medical Privacy Invasion? - "A growing number of Americans feel they are losing control over their medical privacy. That loss is real," stated Blevins. Congress Faces August 21 Deadline; Mark-Up Begins June 15.
Institute for Health Freedom To Host Panel Discussion on Medical Privacy Issues - The deadline is approaching. If Congress does not pass a medical privacy law by August 21, 1999, then the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) is required to establish regulations governing your medical privacy.
3/24/1999 Who Controls Your Medical Records? - Most states have laws that guarantee patients the right to access their own medical records, but H.R. 354 would preempt these even though it exempts certain other state laws.
1/5/1999 Who's Reading Your Medical Records? - Did you know that your health history can be investigated by insurance companies, government agencies, and health care personnel? Find out how you can investigate the investigators.
Nov./Dec. 1998 Protecting Americans' Medical Privacy: Why Congress Must Act or Be Acted Upon - Hundreds of individuals and organizations have access to your medical records now, whether you know it or not. The Congressional Research Service reports that according to one 1996 estimate, during the course of a hospital stay, as many as 400 people may see at least part of a patient's medical record.
10/7/1998 Invasion of Medical Privacy - Several bills, approved and signed, contain pieces of an emerging system that will require every American to carry a photo ID that would include personal history stored on a magnetic strip or computer chip.
9/11/1998 Senate Amendment to Stop National Healthcare ID Proposal - "A plan to assign every American a lifetime health-care ID number, similar to a Social Security number, could face new limits under a measure headed for Senate debate. A provision introduced Thursday [September 3] by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, would prohibit the Health and Human Services Department from going forward with the plan until Congress approves its specifics."
Summer 1998 Protecting Your Medical Privacy