Medical Care Gets Personal, Not Private Under the new Affordable Care Act logo

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October 2, 2013

Medical Care Gets Personal, Not Private

Under the new Affordable Care Act that went into effect on October 1, the questions you will be getting from your doctors are going to be a lot more personal – and a lot less private.

According to multiple reports, the new regulations require doctors to ask very invasive questions about the frequency, partners, and intimate details of their patients’ sexual activity. And they will be asking these questions of all patients, including your teenaged children.

According to a report in the New York Post, these questions will be asked “whether it’s the dermatologist or the cardiologist and no matter if the questions are unrelated to why you’re seeking medical help.”

To add to the concern, while the questions will be extremely personal, they will not be private. That’s because doctors are also being pressured to put your answers – and the rest of your medical records – into an online medical database. Doctors who refuse will be giving up some significant federally funded incentives now, and may face fines or other punitive financial consequences by 2015.

The government claims the database provisions are to provide quicker and more accurate medical service wherever you happen to be when you need care. But Goldwater Institute attorney Christina Sandefur warns, “Once you’ve shared your information with a private third party, the Supreme Court has ruled that is fair game for the government,” according to a report at This means the government can legally access any data you share with your doctor that goes into this database system.

It is bad enough that you will have to field these challenges to your privacy and dignity, but your teenagers will be getting the same treatment – even when you are not in the room to help defend them. would encourage you to talk to your children about these invasive questions, and decide in advance how much information you are comfortable with them sharing. Questions on everything from sexual behavior to drug use will be asked. (Thanks to successful efforts from the National Rifle Association, questions about gun ownership have been removed. All other “social history” questions remain fair game.)

Betsy McCaughey at the Post recommends, “Patients need to defend their own privacy by refusing to answer the intrusive social history questions. If you need to confide something pertaining to your treatment, ask your doctor about keeping two sets of books so that your secret stays in the office. Doctors take the Hippocratic Oath seriously and won’t be offended.”
Impact of the Parental Rights Amendment

Unfortunately, the proposed Parental Rights Amendment will not reverse the government’s push for intrusive information from you and your child’s personal lives. However, it will preserve the right of parents to direct the care of their children. So, while it cannot prevent doctors from asking such probing and medically unrelated questions, the PRA can ensure that you, the parent, still get the final decision not only in whether you answer those questions, but in any treatment decisions that follow.

Please, take the necessary steps to protect your family from this new provision. Choose your doctors wisely; talk to your children in advance about how they should answer questions that the doctor and government have no business asking; and support the Parental Rights Amendment to safeguard your role as medical decision-maker in the life of your child.

As parents, we need to draw our line in the sand now, while we still have sand left to stand on.


Michael Ramey
Director of Communications & Research

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