Picture this: You are being audited by the IRS. The auditor has in front of him a tally sheet of potential penalties he is eager to impose upon you (and which the IRS needs to collect to staff up for data collection). To add insult to injury, he begins interrogating you about your personal healthcare information. Which plan do you have? Whose your doctor? What’s he treating you for? Can you prove it?
Is that a wart near the ring in your nose?
Perhaps I exaggerate. Perhaps not. That remains to be seen. But think about it. What if you and your spouse consult with an infertility expert, or, via blood transfusion, you contract HIV? Do you want IRS personnel knowing your personal medical situations?
But, you say, The Privacy Act of 1974, and the more recent HIPPA protect my personal information. Well, under the Privacy Act, three primary rights are guaranteed:
1. The right to see records about oneself, subject to Privacy Act exemptions;
2. The right to request the amendment of records that are not accurate, relevant, timely or complete; and
3. The right of individuals to be protected against unwarranted invasion of their privacy resulting from the collection, maintenance, use, and disclosure of personal information
What about HIPPA? Here’s a statement from the official HIPPA rulebook:
“A major goal of the Privacy Rule is to assure that individuals’ health information is properly protected while allowing the flow of health information needed to provide and promote high quality health care and to protect the public’s health and well being. The Rule strikes a balance that permits important uses of information, while protecting the privacy of people who seek care and healing. Given that the health care marketplace is diverse, the Rule is designed to be flexible and comprehensive to cover the variety of uses and disclosures that need to be addressed.”
That is the fine print that un-does what we all have believed the Privacy Act does.
Here are some of the exemptions, meaning information that government agencies are allowed to withhold from you.
– Classified information for national defense or foreign policy [okay, don’t want this leaked]
– Information that is exempt under other laws [hmm, catch-all verbiage]
– Personnel and medical files [Bingo!]
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, writing for Forbes, says:
The IRS, Under Obamacare, [has] responsibility for verifying eligibility for the healthcare program, and monitoring whether you carry “qualifying” health coverage (and are exempt from the law’s penalties).The IRS was given expansive, new powers to execute these goals. That includes more authority to share your personal information — not only about your income, but also your healthcare.
And the agency’s reach only grows: Former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman told Congress last year that the agency would need another $13.1 billion to implement Obamacare in 2014, on top of the billion it has already spent.
Estimates say that eventually, the IRS will need a minimum of 5,000 and perhaps as many of 16,000 additional employees to carry out the new law’s many mandates.
The IRS is under fire this week, after its Director of Exempt Organizations Lois Lerner admitted on Friday that the agency targeted conservatives for special tax-exempt scrutiny during the 2012 election season. IRS targeted tea party types and groups that specifically opposed the Obama Administration.
This abuse should give everyone pause heading into the fall, when the IRS assumes the lead role in monitoring what kind of health insurance we carry, whether we are eligible for Obamacare, or subject to the legislation’s myriad list of financial penalties.
These are just [two] of the ways that the IRS will regulate your healthcare.
1. The IRS is responsible for implementing 47 new healthcare tax provisions under Obamacare. These include the right to levy a penalty against businesses and individuals who don’t provide or acquire insurance, determining how to distribute annual subsidies to those qualifying for subsidies to buy the Obamacare coverage, and deciding how to deliver tax credits to small businesses that buy coverage for workers.
2. The IRS will also include new paperwork with everyone’s tax returns starting next year, to monitor the decisions all of us make with respect to our health insurance. This tax document must contain sufficient information for taxpayers to prove that they purchased qualifying health insurance under Obamacare.
Many folks already complain about the access that our employers have to information on our health. You can thank a quirk of tax law that, years ago, made it more affordable to buy health insurance at work, rather than on our own.
If most of us had our druthers, the workplace would be the last place we’d want to get health coverage. Well, maybe the second to last place.
The last place we’d want to buy our coverage is through the IRS.
Well said, Dr. Gottleib. I concur. So, now we all must beware of stiff penalties, not for tax evasion, but healthcare enrollment evasion, lest we be labeled among America’s Most Wanted, gangsters elite, enemy #1, to be hunted down along with the likes of . . . .
You get the picture.
by T.M. Burroughs