Your Last Opportunity To Opt-Out Of My Health Record Is Here
The federal government is under pressure to extend opt-out deadline for the controversial My Health Record system until the end of January.
The Senate on Wednesday passed a crossbench amendment to legislation strengthening privacy protections for the electronic health record system, pushing the date until January 31 next year.
But the new date won't come into effect before Thursday when the opt-out period ends because the bill needs to return to the House of Representatives which doesn't sit again until November 26.
Labor and the Greens, along with independents Tim Storer and Derryn Hinch, wanted a one-year extension but their amendment was voted down 32 to 30.
About four per cent of Australians (1.147 million) have so far opted out of the electronic health record system, while more than 300,000 have opted in during the opt-out period which ends on Thursday.
However, the final opt-out figure is expected to hit 10 per cent.
Opposition health spokeswoman Catherine King said My Health Record promised huge benefits for people which participated, but they had been jeopardised by the Liberals shifting away from Labor's opt-in model.
"Their botched rollout has seriously undermined public trust in this important reform and it's going to take time to rebuild it," Ms King said in a statement.
Liberal senator Jane Hume said Australians have already had a significant period to get out of the system and will still be able to get rid of their record once the opt-out period ends.
"At any point in time, you can remove yourself from the My Health Record program and you can delete your file, and it will be deleted permanently," she told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.
Health Minister Greg Hunt argues there have been no cases of misuse of information in the six years the system has operated, but the government was willing to provide further protections.
Under the bill before the Senate, people found guilty of improper use of My Health Record would face up to five years in jail, instead of two, and the maximum fine would more than double to $315,000.
Victims of domestic violence would also be better protected, with abusive former partners banned from accessing their child's records.
WHAT IS THE MY HEALTH RECORD?
- An online summary of an individual's health information, including allergies, medical conditions, treatments, medicines, and test reports, which can be shared securely with their clinicians.
- People can access their data online at anytime and can adjust how it may be viewed by health professionals and people they trust.
WHY IS THE SYSTEM CONTROVERSIAL?
- Concerns gathered pace about the security and privacy of the system in mid-2018, including the potential for law enforcement bodies to access the data.
- Another concern was that perpetrators of domestic violence perpetrators might be able to find the addresses of former partners, particularly if both are parents and have access to their children's health data.
- There are also fears private health insurers may one day be able to access the data.
HOW HAS THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT RESPONDED?
- Health Minister Greg Hunt announced in August plans to make changes so the records could not be accessed by police without a court order, and would be permanently deleted if cancelled by a user.
- The opt-out period for the program (which began in July) was initially extended by a month, pushing it out to Thursday, November 15.
- Earlier this month, Mr Hunt announced further changes based on two Senate reviews and other feedback, including harsher penalties for those who misuse the system.
- Victims of domestic violence would also be better protected, and private health insurers would be unable to access data even when it had been de-identified.
- The changes are awaiting the green light from parliament.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE OPT-OUT PERIOD ENDS?
- Anyone who hasn't elected not to have a My Health Record created for them by late Thursday night will have one by the end of 2018.
- Labor and the Greens want the opt-out period to be extended until after the latest legislative changes clear parliament.
I've just tried calling the 1800 number and it doesn't even ring.— Jon (@Jon00073511) November 13, 2018
Both 'Opt Out' options do not work.— Dave G Byrne (@davegbyrne3) November 13, 2018
Website won't recognise correct information provided and suggests the phone number which won't answer.
Tells me everything I need to know. https://t.co/loOIMIpcF9