Response To HIC Re Privacy Of Medicare Data – 8 December 1999

The Australian Doctors’ Fund stands by its media release of 3 December 1999 which revealed extracts from the Health Insurance Commission’s (HIC) 3-year strategic plan in relation to the sale of Medicare data and the new commercial posture being adopted by the HIC said Mr Stephen Milgate Executive Director of the Australian Doctors’ Fund.

The Attorney-General has since stated that the existing Privacy Act “…applies to documents it [HIC] holds in respect of its public activities, but not its commercial activities.”

The Australian Doctors’ Fund will continue to rely on the HIC’s strategic plan as a statement of fact about its intentions in preference to media releases put out by the HIC.

The Australian Doctors’ Fund’s concerns in regard to the move by the HIC into a commercial posture are amplified by the Privacy Commissioner who states “A trend that has been observed internationally is that there are increasing and successful demands being made for people not directly providing health care to have access to identified or semi-identifiable health information.”

Mr Milgate said “The Australian Doctors’ Fund is one of the few health care groups which does not ask for or receive any Government funding. We are not beholden to Government in any way and can speak out without fear or favour.”

The Australian Doctors’ Fund is currently investigating:

  1. The HIC’s involvement in the development of a national electronic network which will contain the personal medical histories of all Australians through a project known as Health Online.
  2. Moves by the powerful US Coalition of Service Industries (USCSI) by the process of trade negotiations to remove from health care “excessive privacy and confidentiality regulations” which “…has made it difficult for U.S. private-sector health care providers to market in foreign countries.”