Federal health care database raises privacy concerns

Thursday - 11/4/2010, 4:27pm EDT

By Jolie Lee
Federal News Radio

The Office of Personnel Management's plan to build a data system with millions of Americans' health care claims is raising concerns about privacy.

Computer World reports that the Center for Democracy and Technology and 15 other organizations asked for more details about the data system and how information will be protected.

According to OPM, the Health Claims Data Warehouse will help the agency more cost-effectively manage three programs: the Federal Employee Health Benefit Program (FEHBP), the National Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Program and the Multi-State Option Plan.

However, CDT said the database is unnecessary and creates security risks. In a letter to OPM Director John Berry, CDT argued the OPM should not move ahead with setting up a "massive database full of detailed individual health records without giving the public a full and fair chance to evaluate the specifics of the program."

CDT is urging OPM to delay the Nov. 15 launch date for the database and instead argues for a query system that keeps the data with the record holders, such as health plans.