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Citizens are Concerned about Electronic Transmission of Medical Data

December 3, 2002

A survey by Opinion Research indicates that Americans don't like having their medical data transmitted electronically, leaving it subject to unauthorized access. Soon doctors will be legally required to submit most Medicare claims electronically.

According to the Insurance Journal (November 5, 2002), "Seventy-seven percent of consumers surveyed say they are concerned with their doctors' sending medical information to an insurance company over the Internet." The telephone survey of 2,000 adults was conducted in October.

Those Under Age 45 are Most Concerned

The Journal notes, "Surprisingly, the survey respondents most concerned about the security and integrity of their personal data on the Internet are under 45 years of age. Almost 70 percent of respondents are regular Internet users, with the majority performing online activities from their homes."

Last year a law was passed requiring doctors to submit most Medicare claims electronically beginning October 2003. Public Law 107-105 was sponsored by Rep. David Hobson (R-Ohio).

If doctors fail to comply they can be excluded from Medicare. Thus even if patients don't want certain information about them sent over the Internet (such as their Social Security numbers), their doctors must file electronically anyway. It is important to note that private insurers tend to follow the lead set by Medicare. That's why citizens should pay close attention to this mandate.

This article was originally published in the November/December 2002 issue of Health Freedom Watch.