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    Column at Los Angeles Times: Your prescription history is their business

    David Lazarus of the Los Angeles Times writes a column on a data collection and sale business that could affect the privacy of your medical information:

    Think you can keep a medical condition secret from life insurers by paying cash for prescription meds? Think again.

    A for-profit service called ScriptCheck exists to rat you out regardless of how diligent you are in trying to keep a sensitive matter under wraps.

    ScriptCheck, offered by ExamOne, a subsidiary of Quest Diagnostics, is yet another example of data mining — using sophisticated programs to scour databases in search of people’s personal information and then selling that info to interested parties. […]

    But for anyone who is taking an antidepressant, say, or being treated for a chronic condition, privacy can be a key consideration. You may not want employers — or potential employers — to know what you’re taking. By the same token, you may not want to risk a potentially sharp increase in insurance premiums. […]

    Turns out, tracking down such information isn’t that difficult.

    Forty-eight states, including California, maintain databases that monitor people’s prescription-drug use, although access to this information is generally limited to doctors, pharmacists and government officials.

    In the private sector, pharmacy benefit managers, the powerful middlemen for insurers and drugstores in most prescription-drug transactions, also keep detailed records of who’s taking what. […]

    And [ScriptCheck] doesn’t end with a list of people’s meds. It also provides best guesses as to a patient’s underlying medical condition, “which is derived from the predictive modeling that is performed by Optum MedPoint.”

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