Roughly 900,000 people have elected to opt-out of the controversial My Health Record online database, which will see Australians’ Medicare information consolidated by the end of the year.
The opt-outs sit at around three per cent of those eligible for a My Health Record, which is roughly in line with the Australian Digital Health Agency’s expectations, Pulse+IT reported.
The pattern of opt-outs is inline with previous trial opt-out periods according to ADHA CEO Tim Kelsey, with opt-outs surging early and then trailing off towards the deadline.
“As of September 12th, the opt out rate is three per cent. We can’t be specifically accurate because we won’t have the returns from remote and rural Australia, the paper returns that people are able to fill in. It’s roughly around 900,000,” Kelsey said.
Kelsey said general awareness of My Health Record has risen from 40 per cent to 87 per cent since the opt-out period began.
Writing for the Star Observer, Joshua Badge noted that My Health Record poses significant privacy concerns, particularly around health issues faced by LGBTI people, people living with HIV, sex workers, recreational drug users and others.
Badge noted potential stigma around health issues faced by members of marginalised communities, including the obtainment of post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) for people who may have been exposed to HIV, unnecessary disclosure of HIV status complicated by the criminalisation of HIV, trans people maintaining privacy around doctor consultations, among other issues.
Doctors called on the government to extend the opt-out period in July, with Health Minister Greg Hunt moving the deadline to November 15.
The government has also since moved to allow users to permanently erase their record from the system if they choose to, and authorities will now require a court order to access a user’s My Health Record.
It has been noted that this now places My Health Record data under greater protection than the information doctors currently hold, whereby they only need to have “reasonable belief” that providing health information to authorities is “reasonably necessary”.
You can find more information about My Health Record and how to opt-out by clicking here.