Media Watch: Editor’s Note: An Apology To Our Readers
The stories just keep getting worse. Via the LA Times:
Raising concerns about consumer privacy, California’s health exchange has given insurance agents the names and contact information for tens of thousands of people who went online to check out coverage but didn’t ask to be contacted.
The Covered California exchange said it started handing out this consumer information this week as part of a pilot program to help people enroll ahead of a Dec. 23 deadline to have health insurance in place by Jan. 1.
State officials said they are only trying to help potential customers find insurance and sign up in time. But some insurance brokers and consumers who were contacted said they were astonished by the state’s move.
The names provided include people who started an insurance application on the Covered California website since enrollment launched Oct. 1, but for whatever reason never picked a health plan or completed the sign-up process.
The state said it provided information on tens of thousands of people who logged into the state’s website, but it didn’t know the exact number.
The exchange said agents were given names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses if available.
No other information on the application, such as Social Security numbers, income and other personal details, was shared, according to the exchange.
Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, acknowledged that these consumers did not ask to be contacted by the state or its certified insurance agents. But he said the outreach program still complies with privacy laws and it was reviewed by the exchange’s legal counsel.
“I can imagine some people may be upset,” Lee said in an interview Friday. “But I can see a lot of people will be comforted and relieved at getting the help they need to navigate a confusing process.”
What sheer audacity and arrogance! Kinda reminds me of the liberal fascists who have tried to shove the complaints of the millions of consumers who lost their insurance policies as a result of Obamacare to the side by essentially saying, “it was what was best for you, so deal with it, rubes.” They think they know what’s best for you and are, you know, acting in your “best interests”, right? Disgusting.
PJ Tatler’s Rick Moran has much more, and notes that this typo of privacy-invading personal information sharing is a feature – not a bug – of Obamacare:
This is a drop in the bucket. In fact, it’s a feature, not a bug of Obamacare that personal, private data of Americans be widely distributed — even delicate, personal health information.
Ellen Wu, executive director of the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, said health plans are sitting on a mountain of data. Why not look at who among their customers has diabetes, for example, and target interventions to them, Wu asked.
“The general sense is absolutely we have to treat this data appropriately,” Wu said. “It must be confidential and have the right protections, but it’s also important that it’s shared and analyzed. One is not exclusive of the other.”
If you’re a resident of California and you’re outraged and disgusted by what Lee and the rest of Covered California did in sharing information of people who didn’t sign up for insurance and didn’t ask to be contacted, file a complaint with the California Dept. of Insurance. It doesn’t matter if it’s “technically legal” – it’s WRONG. Also, here’s a pro-tip: If you want to ensure that these things don’t happen to you, DON”T PUT IN ANY DIRECT CONTACT INFORMATION (phone number, address, email address) – in fact, if you can avoid it and still find out the information you want to know, don’t fill out even ONE LINE on any page that asks for your information. Protect yourselves from these info thieves because your private business is your private business – not anyone else’s.