Friday, December 02, 2005

Driving with the Brakes On

As we move closer to a national health records system, it is important to remember that our consumer is probably going to push back. This recent survey reported in SHRM Online found that 67 percent of Americans are concerned about the privacy of their personal health information and are largely unaware of their rights. And a major concern was that employers would use medical information to discriminate against workers.

Though there is no evidence of massive disregard for the privacy rules, fear of job repercussions is not entirely unfounded.

In 1998, for example, an Atlanta truck driver lost his job when his employer learned from his insurance company that he had sought treatment for a drinking problem, according to one of scores of stories about privacy breeches posted on the Health Privacy Project’s web site.

“The fear of disclosure, the fear of loss of benefits, the fear that people will be adversely affected in their jobs continues,” project director Janlori Goldman told HR News.

The most concerned? Minorities and those with on-going health problems.

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