Friday, July 13, 2012

All men are created equal, so long as they're loyal

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.
Wikimedia Commons
This article from the New York Daily News states that Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. is absent from congress with a "mood disorder". Now that sounds pretty serious and I wish both Jackson and his constituents a speedy recovery.

Regarding exactly what type of mood disorder is involved, the article has this tidbit:
... the statement noted that information about Jackson’s treatment is protected under federal law by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPPA (sic).
I think that everyone has a right to privacy regarding their health issues. It's troublesome when your elected representative has a mental health issue requiring treatment but that appears to be pretty rare (notice how I'm not even going after the low-hanging humor fruit).

So why is the above tidbit interesting to me? Because the HIPPA the article refers to is actually the HIPAA, or Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. This act comprises two parts:
  • The protection of your health insurance should you change your job
  • The privacy of your health information.
In fact, your privacy under this act is so sacrosanct that the US Department of Health and Human Services HIPAA portal focuses on privacy first, and portability later. They even have privacy in the URL! It's serious business, folks.

If you're an expat, there's a good chance you'll smell a whiff of hypocrisy here.

Since 1996, there's been a legal requirement to have the IRS publish, in the Federal Register, the names of those Americans who have chosen to expatriate (in the sense of "renouncing citizenship). Where did this legal requirement come from? Section 6039G of HIPAA (as noted in the previous link, but misspelled in almost every Federal Register).

Why does a health insurance law so focused on privacy have a completely irrelevant provision to violate the privacy of expats?

Welcome to being an expat.
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