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Consumer Reports: Safeguarding prescription information

Posted at 6:20 AM, May 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-24 09:27:43-04

TUCSON, Ariz. - Pharmacies and doctors are legally bound to safeguard your prescription records. But some of that information can still be shared and used in ways you might not expect! Like when you apply for life insurance, disability, or long-term-care insurance, it’s likely the insurance company hired a reporting agency to analyze your medication records and score your health risks. It’s fully legal, so CR says it’s important that the information they know about you is accurate.

“In the same way we think about credit reports, there are three reporting agencies that collect your prescription history and they can keep a tally on all the prescriptions you and your family members take," says Consumer Reports Investigative Reporter, Lisa Gill. "Every year ask for a free prescription history from one of the three reporting agencies.”

Those are Exam One, Milliman IntelliScript and the Medical Information Bureau. Who else is using your info? Pharmacy chains are legally allowed to remind you about refills, but they can also send you promotional emails for new medicines similar to the ones you take. CR says opt out of pharmacy reminders and ads if you have the option, AND…

“You should also be very careful joining a drug discount program. It opens the door to marketing, opens the door to extra phone calls," says Pharmacist, William Stroud.

But CR says there’s someone else who might be legally sharing some of your prescription data.

“A lot of hospitals and doctor’s offices take your information and then they take your name off of it," says Gill. "They take that information or share that information with marketing companies or drug companies. If you don’t want this to happen to you, ask your doctor to opt-out of having your information shared with any of these groups.”

And remember to keep your pill bottles and receipts private.

“Safeguard it all, shred it. And if you cannot get the paper off, that’s when you get the black Sharpie out," says Stroud.

CR says that medication records can also be a gold mine for criminals, who may use them to get drugs illegally or file false insurance claims. So think twice before allowing credit card numbers and especially Social Security numbers to be included in the office records of your pharmacy or doctor.