Stossel: Goodbye to Health Care Privacy

John Stossel’s Take
Commentary from Co-Anchor of ABC News’ “20/20”

When the government takes over the health care system, bureaucrats will want to know whether you have a government-mandated health insurance policy when getting care. If you don’t, you’ll face a penalty.

Cornell law school professor William A. Jacobson writes that under both the House and Senate plans, the IRS will serve as the enforcer of the rules against individual taxpayers. Doctors will have to report to the IRS the names, addresses, Social Security numbers and coverage periods of their patients. The point?

(A)llow the IRS to cross-check income tax returns and health coverage filings, and withhold tax refunds or utilize other collection methods for persons who do not have coverage… similar to the cross-checking the IRS does on income reported separately by the person making the payment and the taxpayer receiving the payment. But for the first time the IRS is not checking for income to tax, but for lack of health coverage.

These provisions should have people interested in privacy greatly concerned…. the IRS traditionally has not received personal health care information about individuals.

Accounting website WebCPA describes the penalties you’ll face if you don’t purchase the government-approved insurance:

If a person does not have acceptable health insurance coverage at any time during the tax year, a tax would be imposed under the House bill equal to 2.5 percent (of the taxpayer’s gross income)… The Senate version has some differences, including calling the tax a “shared responsibility payment.”

Along with that “shared responsibility,” you’ll also share your medical records with IRS agents, and the people they leak them to.

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