July 24, 2018

Horse 2446 - Opt Out Of My Health Record? Why Bother?

Given the almost complete and utter failure of the Federal Government to run the last Census properly, when millions of users all logged on to the same website at the same time and it crashed and fell into a heap, I can very much understand people's misgivings surrounding the new My Health Record initiative which will see medical records centralised and made available to various institutions.
Also given the problem of the profit motive, the general incompetence of very large bureaucracies to manage things securely, and the fact that nefarious actors might want the information for nefarious purposes, opting out of the system and refusing to give one's consent, seems like sensible and rational course of action.
So am I going to opt out? Well, no.

Before you label me as a crackpot, I have not consented to being an organ donor for a similar and related reason. I can very easily conceive of a future where the welfare state is dismantled, where public hospitals are sold off and where private organisations might want to accidentally terminate me because of the valuable and tasty organs that lie inside my body; especially when there might be a richer client a couple of beds over who is worth more in potential revenue streams to them. Medical bankruptcy is already the leading cause of financial default in the United States and Australia which is consistently too stupid to invent its own foreign and domestic policy could very well adopt an American style health care system, if the IPA is successfully able to make the LNP do its bidding.
Given that, I should want to opt out of the My Health Record initiative, shouldn't I? Rationally I would say 'yes' but  equally rationally I will say 'no'. And why? Because we've already lost. By my reckoning, opting out of the My Health Record initiative is about as pointless as trying to hold back the waves with a pitchfork.

I don't know if you've been to a GP's office in the past five years but they already have a system which connects to the Department of Health and your medical records. They already report to the Federal Government and this is quite useful. Doctors in times of emergency need to know what kind of medication you are on and other useful information because if you happen to be presented in A&E in less than sterling condition, then you might not be able to answer their questions; it's not like they are simple questions either. When it is literally a matter of life and death, then the people who are best poised to make important decisions are those people who have spent years of study.
When GPs and Doctors are already reporting to the government, then this is very much like financial institutions reporting to the ATO. The government already has been making use of the data, they are going to get the information anyway, so withholding consent or not is all a bit academic. If it makes you feel better then fine but seeing as it's going to make squat all difference one way or the other, I personally am going to let my apathy be my guide.

I think that the fear which is being peddled in the media is based upon the premise that the government collecting information is a precursor to some kind of deep state aspirations. The evidence suggests though that the government is generally too incompetent to make use of all of the data that they're going to collect. Governments in the past that did have totalitarian aspirations, usually ended up enforcing them at the end of a sword or gun; however, I think that as time passes, the instrument of government is becoming less important and actual governance is increasingly being done by business. They will be the ones who want the information and if they get it by perfectly legal or nefarious means is kind of much of a muchness. Even if they were to steal said data, the likelihood of prosecution is minor.
If that's true, then the government is being manipulated by business to play the long game for them and this My Health Record is less about the control of people and more about collecting information so that when public services like healthcare are dismantled, business will have a ready record of who are the bad business risks.
It seems to me that opting out of the system although it might have the short term effect of civil disobedience, it creates the long term effect of turning someone into a dark citizen and if I was business, I would be less inclined to provide services to such a person because the base assumption has to be that they are a bad business risk.

I generally don't believe in conspiracy theories because they almost always require a suspension of belief that is really really massive. On the other hand, when information is inputted into a system it is because someone at some point will want to retrieve it. While we still have the provision of public health services, I would rather that that information be useful. I also have the base assumption that business and indeed all people are internally selfish; so opting in or out just seems like two sides of exactly the same coin to me.

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