Health records ‘data security,’ Canada-style
posted at 11:33 am on December 3, 2013 by Guy Benson
Ellen Richardson went to Pearson airport on Monday full of joy about flying to New York City and from there going on a 10-day Caribbean cruise for which she’d paid about $6,000. But a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent with the Department of Homeland Security killed that dream when he denied her entry. “I was turned away, I was told, because I had a hospitalization in the summer of 2012 for clinical depression,’’ said Richardson, who is a paraplegic and set up her cruise in collaboration with a March of Dimes group of about 12 others. The Weston woman was told by the U.S. agent she would have to get “medical clearance’’ and be examined by one of only three doctors in Toronto whose assessments are accepted by Homeland Security. She was given their names and told a call to her psychiatrist “would not suffice.’’
First off, good luck securing a last-minute doctor’s appointment in Canada. Secondly, it gets weirder:
At the time, Richardson said, she was so shocked and devastated by what was going on, she wasn’t thinking about how U.S. authorities could access her supposedly private medical information. “I was so aghast. I was saying, ‘I don’t understand this. What is the problem?’ I was so looking forward to getting away . . . I’d even brought a little string of Christmas lights I was going to string up in the cabin. . . . It’s not like I can just book again right away,’’ she said, referring to the time and planning that goes into taking a trip as a disabled person. Richardson said she’d had no discussion whatsoever with the agent at the airport about her medical history or background.
An inquiry into how this happened is underway, with Ms. Richardson’s MP calling the episode “enormously troubling.” But I’m sure Americans have nothing to fear regarding healthcare-related data security breaches. After all, Kathleen Sebelius “feels like” Healthcare.gov is secure. Case closed, right?