Information is Power

I’ve been avoiding dwelling on the Affordable Car Act (ACA) too much. The last has passed and the state has never been too keen on repealing something it put into place. I would prefer to spend my time thinking of ways to bypass the ACA such as building “underground” mutual aid organizations. But the ACA is the hot topic right now and it pays to point out my issues with that legislation as justification for finding a way to bypass it. It seems Maryland’s health insurance exchange (the ACA mandates that each individual state implement a health insurance “marketplace”) contains some interesting language in its privacy policy:

The policy contains many standard statements about information automatically collected regarding Internet browsers and IP addresses, temporary “cookies” used by the site, and website accessibility. However, at least two conditions may give some users pause before proceeding.

The first is regarding personal information submitted with an application for those users who follow through on the sign up process all the way to the end. The policy states that all information to help in applying for coverage and even for making a payment will be kept strictly confidential and only be used to carry out the function of the marketplace. There is, however, an exception: “[W]e may share information provided in your application with the appropriate authorities for law enforcement and audit activities.”

This exception could turn out to be a lot of fun for law enforcement. What’s to stop law enforcement agents from digging through your medical history in order to find some dirt on you? Did you do drugs in the past that lead to medical issues? Have you overcome your addiction? Too bad, because your attendance at a detox center may be enough proof to land you in jail (or at least nail you with a nasty fine). While the scenario I just laid out is entirely hypothetical I believe it is a likely one based on how the war on drugs not patented by major pharmaceutical companies has been conducted so far.

Information is power. One of the most worrisome consequences of the ACA is the amount of healthcare data that will be made readily available to the federal government. With how pervasive it has been with surveillance as of late we can’t assume that it has any egalitarian reason to gather healthcare information as well as copies of our communications.