The opt-out period for My Health Record has been extended to 31 January, 2019 and the opt-out portal and helpline will remain open and available until then.
Every Australian with a Medicare card or Department of Veteran’s card will receive a My Health Record unless they have opted out through the My Health Record website or the helpline by 31 January. But the record can be permanently deleted at any time.
More than 6 million Australians have registered for a My Health Record since its inception in 2012. This number has grown during the opt out period as some people saw the benefits of joining and didn’t want to wait for the automatic creation of the records.
Those who have opted out in the 4 month period since July can still register for a record in the future at any time.
Further to the extension of the opt-out period, the Senate also passed the My Health Records Amendment (Strengthening Privacy) Bill 2018. The Bill will need to go back to the House of Representatives, which sits again on 26 November, 2018. If passed by the House of Representatives in its current form, it will then be assented and become law.
The amendments that passed the Senate are another step in ensuring the system has the confidence of the Australian public, promotes greater health outcomes and protects the privacy and security of people’s health information.
There are a number of amendments in the Bill that strengthen the My Health Records privacy and security protections. Briefly, the changes will:
- Explicitly prohibit access to My Health Records by insurers and employers.
- Provide greater privacy for teenagers 14 years and over.
- Strengthen existing protections for people at risk of family and domestic violence.
- Allow Australians to permanently delete their records, and any backups, at any time.
- Clarify that only the Agency, the Department of Health and the Chief Executive of Medicare (and no other government agency) can access the My Health Record system.
- Make clear that the system cannot be privatised or used for commercial purposes.
- Make the principles contained in the Framework to guide secondary uses of data law
This will be backed up by harsher penalties and fines for inappropriate or unauthorised use.
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