Oct 17, 2019 - 11:00am

National Healthcare Claims Database & Consumer Privacy: What are the Implications for your Personally Identifiable Health Information?


Manager, Health Care and Retirement Policy

Background: Fill Me In 
Earlier this year, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee passed the “Lower Health Care Costs Act” (S.1895) out of committee. Among other things, the bill would create a national health care claims database, also known as an All-Payer Claims Database (APCD). This database would be maintained by a non-profit entity which would collect health care claims and data from all private insurance carriers and public health programs including self-insured employers.

Important Details Still Need to be Addressed: The Latest
A newly published white paper raises some questions about whether there are appropriate protections to safeguard the APCD’s personally identifiable health information. Specifically, there are concerns about the security of the health claims information as it is transferred from the non-profit entity that collects the data to a broad set of secondary users. The legislative text is not clear on the following points: 

  • Do HIPAA protections apply to the secondary user that receive the data from the non-profit entity? 
  • Are data use agreements permitted?
  • How easily can de-identified information be re-identified, exposing the identity of individuals and their private consumer health information? 

Why These Details Matter: Privacy is Important
With threats to data security on the rise as data breaches become more frequent, it’s no surprise that a recent poll found nearly all Americans—94%—believe the privacy and security of their personal healthcare information is important. What’s more, fewer than a third of Americans support legislation that would create a national healthcare claims database, or APCD. In addition, approximately 74% of Americans agree that putting health information in a national database would put the privacy of millions of American’s health information at risk. Instead, 4 in 5 Americans say that we need to study how best to safeguard our data before putting private information at risk. 

Strengthen Protections: Our Position
Consumer access to meaningful, actionable and credible information on health care providers and services is critical to better health care decision-making. The Chamber supports the goal of improving access to health care cost and quality information that is appropriate and actionable for consumers and plan sponsors.

However, any proposal must recognize that the health care market and the provision of services by the various industries are inherently different from other private sector markets. A careful balance must be achieved between the benefits of providing transparency information to consumers against the sensitivity of rates in competitive, privately-negotiated contractual agreements within health sector industries.
 

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About the Author

About the Author

Anna Vredenburgh
Manager, Health Care and Retirement Policy

Anna Vredenburgh is the manager for health care and retirement policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce