Target: Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Secretary Department of Health and Human Services
Goal: Update HIPAA laws to protect employee privacy by including data employers are using to track employees.
Employers are using data crunching services to track employee pregnancy and other life decisions. Under current Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations, this measure is completely legal. Companies such as Castlight Health use information like search queries and insurance claims to determine which segments of an employee population are likely to make significant decisions.
Castlight says they only share top-level numbers with employers in an effort to mitigate discrimination, but realistically, it’s not terribly difficult for employers to make educated guesses and potentially discriminate against individuals or workforce segments based upon the information provided by Castlight. Caslight offers employees services like the ability to search for in-network doctors and track medical spending. Unless the employees opting in to these services read the fine print, they’re unaware that this information is also being sent to their employer.
Demand current HIPAA laws are updated to protect employees from these privacy violations.
Dear Secretary Burwell,
Current HIPAA laws have a large loophole which allows employers to violate their employees’ privacy and potentially discriminate against certain people or groups. Companies like Castlight Health offer employees an easy way to search for in-network care providers and track their medical spending. However, the fine print for employees opting to use this convenience is that Castlight has the right to report data it collects to their employer.
HIPAA regulations do not currently prohibit sharing information such as search results and insurance claims, enabling companies like Castlight to assist employers with tracking their employees. This not only violates employees’ privacy, it also provides an underhanded method for employers to discriminate. For example, if data indicates that a large number of female employees are likely to become pregnant in the next year, employers may tacitly place a temporary hold on hiring more women to avoid the cost of maternity leave.
We demand HIPAA laws are updated to close this loophole and protect employee privacy.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: geralt