The Maryland Health Exchange has been riddled with technical glitches since enrollment began on the first day of October.
As of October 7th, health officials with the exchange said more than 170,000 unique visitors had been on the website. However, only 326 have actually enrolled in a plan.
I previously wrote about the technical “glitches” the site was experiencing.
Additionally, reports of privacy issues with the site have come forward.
The first is regarding personal information submitted with an application for those users who follow through on the sign up process all the way to the end. The policy states that all information to help in applying for coverage and even for making a payment will be kept strictly confidential and only be used to carry out the function of the marketplace. There is, however, an exception: “[W]e may share information provided in your application with the appropriate authorities for law enforcement and audit activities.” Here is the entire paragraph from the policy the includes the exception [emphasis added]:
The site does not specify if “appropriate authorities” refers only to state authorities or if it could include the federal government, as well. Neither is there any detail on what type of law enforcement and/or audit activities would justify the release of the personal information, or who exactly is authorized to make such a determination. An email to the Maryland Health Connection’s media contact seeking clarification has not yet been answered
The second privacy term that may prompt caution by users relates to email communications. The policy reads:
If you send us an e-mail, we use the information you send us to respond to your inquiry. E-mail correspondence may become a public record. As a public record, your correspondence could be disclosed to other parties upon their request in accordance with Maryland’s Public Information Act.
Since emails to the marketplace could conceivably involve private matters regarding finances, health history, and other sensitive issues, the fact that such information could be made part of the “public record” could prevent users from being as free with their information than they might otherwise be. However, as noted, any requests for such emails would still be subject to Maryland’s Public Information Act which contains certain exceptions to the disclosure rules.
The privacy concerns, the call center and website glitches, and all of the other problems with Obamacare have all probably contributed to the low number of signups. That trend of low signups is a national one based on other reports.
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