Yesterday, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issued updated notices for its health claims database. The new notices shed more light on the privacy protections OPM intends to use, and the notices announce significant revisions to the way OPM will collect and share health information. The new notices come after CDT and other groups issued letters and comments to OPM, urging it to apply greater privacy protections, be more transparent and to consider other database models. OPM’s new notices take up some of these recommendations, but there are still unresolved issues with the identifiability of the health information and the database architecture.
Background on the Health Claims Data Warehouse
In October 2010, OPM announced its plans to create a database – called the Health Claims Data Warehouse – containing copies of detailed electronic health records of millions of Americans. According to the October 2010 notice, the Warehouse would include enrollees’ Social Security Number (SSN), information on spouses, children, and employment, as well as health care coverage, procedures, diagnoses, and payments. OPM would collect this data by setting up data feeds with plans participating in three major insurance programs: the Federal Employee Health Benefit Program, the National Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Program, and the Multi-State Option Plan.
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