Home  >  National  >  Sex, drugs and Obamacare: Questions get personal, with no privacy guarantee

Sex, drugs and Obamacare: Questions get personal, with no privacy guarantee

By   /   September 17, 2013  /   News  /   53 Comments

PLEADING THE FIFTH: Doctors will take on the role of government bureaucrats under one part of the new federal health care law, according to the New York Post.

PLEADING THE FIFTH: Doctors will take on the role of government bureaucrats under one part of the new federal health care law, according to the New York Post.


By Eric Boehm | Watchdog.org

Thanks to new regulations that are part of the federal Affordable Care Act, patients will be asked to disclose more personal information to their doctors — including how often they have sex and how with how many sexual partners.

And once they do, it won’t really be personal information any more.

One provision of the new Obamacare law will have doctors asking their patients about their sex lives and history of drug use, even if such information is completely unrelated to why the patient is seeking medical treatment, according to a report in Monday’s New York Post,

Christina Sandefur, a lawyer for the Goldwater Institute, an Arizona-based conservative think tank challenging the Affordable Care Act in federal court, said the arrangement is a violation of patients’ privacy rights.

“Once you’ve shared your information with a private third party, the Supreme Court has ruled that is fair game for the government,” she told Watchdog.org, noting the recent disclosures of data sharing between the National Security Agency and Google, Facebook and other online services.

Doctors and hospitals who refuse to participate could be cut-off from some federal funds, and individuals who decline to share sensitive information may have to pay the fines — taxes, according to the Supreme Court — outlined in the federal health care law.

“This is nasty business,” New York cardiologist Dr. Adam Budzikowski told the Post.

Budzikowski called the sex questions “insensitive, stupid and very intrusive.”

The president’s “reforms” aim to turn doctors into government agents, pressuring them financially to ask questions they consider inappropriate and unnecessary, and to violate their Hippocratic Oath to keep patients’ records confidential, the Post reported.

Thanks to laws that protect the confidentiality of doctor-patient conversations — in the same way conversations with your lawyer or your priest are considered off-the-record and — people generally are more open with their doctors than with friends and family.

That’s a good thing for both doctors and patients.  Privileged communication means patients will give honest answers and doctors can get vital information.

But in the new age of Obamacare, doctors will have to ask about personal details patients may not want to share.  Then, that information goes into an electronic personal file, which can be shared between doctors, hospitals and other treatment centers.

The connectivity is supposed to help reduce waiting times and get patients faster treatment under Obamacare, but some worry about the tremendous potential for personal information to be stolen or improperly shared.

In reviewing New York’s state-level system of electronic medical records, the New York chapter of the ACLU concluded that “there are significant flaws in the state’s current privacy and security policies and procedures governing computer networks for sharing electronic medical records.”

They’re not the only ones raising concerns.

In August, the federal Department of Health and Human Services said it needed more time to ensure the software to be used for the federal insurance exchanges was secure enough to keep patients’ private information would not be compromised.

And those concerns seem to be well-founded: just last week, the Minnesota health insurance exchange was victimized by a security breach leaking data for 2,400 insurance brokers.

Other parts of the Obamacare roll-out are also generating privacy concerns.

In a letter sent to HHS last month, 12 state attorneys general said they were worried about the trustworthiness of the Obamacare “navigators” being hired by states with federal money, as Florida Watchdog reported at the time.

The navigators are supposed to help low-income individuals understand the complexities of the Affordable Care Act and how to use the health insurance exchanges.

“It is inevitable that HHS’s vague ‘standards’ will result in improperly screened or inadequately trained personnel. These individuals will be more prone to misappropriate, accidentally or intentionally, the private data of consumers,” the letter said.

Patients need to defend their own privacy by refusing to answer the intrusive social-history questions. If you need to confide something pertaining to your treatment, ask your doctor about keeping two sets of books so that your secret stays in the office, the Post advised in its article.

“Doctors take the Hippocratic Oath seriously and won’t be offended,” the author of the Post article, Betsy McCaughey, said.

Eric Boehm is a reporter for Watchdog.org and can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @EricBoehm87.


Eric Boehm is the national regulatory reporter for Watchdog.org. He lives in St. Paul, Minnesota. His work has appeared in Reason Magazine, National Review Online, The Freeman Magazine, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Washington Examiner and Fox News. He was once featured in a BuzzFeed listicle. Follow him on Twitter @EricBoehm87 and reach him at [email protected]

  • OldTimerUSNCB

    What amazes me is all the Demarcate Leadership in this Country have been DEAD set against Voter Picture ID but something that is not said is in order to get this free bee and all other Government hand outs for the so called poor, crippled, old and I guess not very smart people as any Government hand out you have to have a State or Federal Picture ID. I guess when you can get something for free it trumps voting for the Person or persons that run this Country and your lives.
    The reasons for not having a updated Photo ID is simple and most Politicians know why here is some reasons, Warrants, parole violation, unpaid child support, unpaid State and Federal tax’s, welfare fraud, security cameras, Illegal, false IDs, dead people IDs, voting two to fifty times. A retired Cop friend of mind told me that 25% of the Mexicans and a lot of other illegals in this Country all have false IDs and some are duplicated hundreds of times.

  • Ron Torrisi

    I got news for u , if u ask me one question that gets personal I will tell u to fuck off , then tell u to call obama then sue your fucking hospital.

  • No Way Pal

    And the no-information morons who voted this imbecile into office will whine “but if it keeps us healthy then its ok” Geez, like body cavity searching granny at the airport keeps us safe huh? Makes perfect sense to me. How about this…NO. Not now, not tomorrow, not ever. Please please work very hard to get Ted Cruz into the presidency. He will crush this type of nonsense. And wipe out the IRS too!
    Tip O’ The Day: Buy food, guns and ammo. If Hillbilly Clinton gets into office, she’ll be just as incompetent and socialist as obammy but as a bonus, she’s crooked as her old man. Steal everything she can touch. God help us.

  • HarleyGirl795

    Wow, why the hell do they even care about our sex lives? I have no problem telling them it’s none of their fucking business!

  • gpooba

    I’m a family practice physician and my response to having to ask questions that i feel are none of the government’s business…”kiss my ass”. I will not be asking the questions which is unfortunate because there are times I will need the answers to fully treat my patients properly…but the thought of the government as well as others having access? i swore the Hippocratic oath for a reason. Oh yeah, and I will NOT be asking who has guns either…none of mine nor the government’s business. (there are exceptions in extreme mental health patients but those are seen by mental health professionals). If i have a discussion about guns with my patient it is a “social discussion”…comparing what we each have :D. It does NOT go in the chart in any, shape or form.

  • Nobam2012

    Obama should be tried for treason against the American people. I won’t answer anything unrelated to my treatment. They can blow me.

  • Pat Dendy

    No comment.

  • Ol Navy

    Three of my doctors have confirmed they are forced to ask these questions but the patient can “decline to answer”. These doctors also confirmed that they are mandated to use federally “approved” records software and to leave their computer systems turned on at night so those records and updates can be uploaded by the federal government. I have “declined to answer” such questions as religious preference, race, ethnicity, etc. Now I will also “decline to answer” these new questions and any other questions that are not relevant to my healthcare needs. If the government wants to fine me so be it. I will challenge them in court under the federal Patient Privacy Act.

  • MomAtHome

    Can somebody post what these penalties are for not answer?

  • Adonis

    Just went to my Dr’s office today for a routine check up. I was asked besides the normal health questions if I OWNED A GUN! My first thoughts was I was living in age of Communism. My government is using any means to circumvent my rights and all of yours! A routine physical can turn into an ILLEGAL gun registry! IRS, NSA and now my own Doctor is trying to spy on me and of you. Beware fellow freedom loving Patriots.

  • CharmsDad

    You have absolutely NO grounds for a lawsuit since they are following regulations. The hospitals and physicians don’t want this either, nor does the vast majority of the public. It is the Democrats who are shoving this nightmare down everyone’s throat, passed it illegally, and then either paid off or blackmailed Roberts to come up with a very weak and illogical justification for passing it through the courts.

  • Jeff_Birt

    These types of unrelated personal questions are not new. When my daughter was born 18 years ago the form we had to fill out for the county to get a birth certificate had all sorts of questions about drug use, if the mother had ever had a previous abortion, etc. None of these things had anything to do with getting a birth certificate issued and were known of anybody’s business; I refused answer them. I also refuse to answer any Obama Care questions.

  • Fred Clement

    My answers:

    Number of Sexual Partners: Fnord
    Do you take Illegal Drugs: Fnord
    How Many Guns do you Own: Fnord

    Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord Fnord!

    The Illuminati is Watching :p

    ~ Fnord

  • Surrounded

    Sucks that my government is so invasive I can’t even trust my own doctor now. This will result in many people going untreated and perhaps even dying because they won’t be able to trust telling their facts that are important for their treatment but are personally embarrassing. It won’t be long before the confidentiality between you and your lawyer, and you and your priest are also destroyed by the feds. This nation reeks of tyranny.

  • frank

    Don’t you think they put this in so people wouldn’t seek medical care thereby cutting the cost of the government backed insurance AND the more people that DO DIE, the less they have to pay out.

  • Cheyanne Cody

    I can see many many people going postal over this. Flagrant disregard for our Constitutional rights. Actually, this proves we as Americans lost our Constitutional rights.

  • George

    Make a funny movie about it. Asking grannie at 99 years old with the yeast infection how many times a day she has sex.

  • llewellynh

    If the doctors do not provide the information they are being forced to collect their incomes will be decreased in a fine sort of way. It will cost them thousands of dollars not to comply.

  • dave

    My wife went to pick up a prescription for an infection last week. Was told by the pharmacist that because she was over 64 years of age, it was rejected, she would have to contact her doctor for a different antibiotic. All b/c of the HC crap.
    Over 3500 hospital’s across the U.S. are closing due to this nightmare.

  • Donny Darkoh

    well if the illuminati’s behind it, at least they’ll give you an opt out. Individual rights, including the right to remain silent is part of their formula

  • david r.

    No you weren’t.

  • geniejean

    No wonder the government employees don’t want Obamacare. Will he till the truth about visiting the Bath houses in CHI town. I’m sure he was just politicking?

  • geniejean

    Just give them any answer. It’s none of the damn Goverment’s business. The last I heard this was a free country. We are not Russia yet.

  • geniejean

    Let’s hope the Lord steps in and works a miracle that helps give us a way to impeach this front man for the socialist party. Of course then we would have to put up With a inept Biden.

  • craig

    Spreading lies and fear again. Any doctor who doesn’t ask about your drug use shouldn’t be a doctor. And there is nothing anywhere that you have to answer any question. You don’t even have to answer where the pain is. You can say whatever you want. You can lie. That’s what this website is doing. Is this the Joe McCarthy faction of the Republican Party that runs this website?

  • tracymae

    That is none of their business. “They can go buy a new hat and take a dump in it. They will not get any response to those questions from me.

  • gwedem5995

    Every person, no matter their age, should just say I haven’t had sex in years.

  • Chillycat2

    And it doesn’t bother you that they WANT this information or feel entitled to have it. Can you reach way back Into your tiny brain and remember the very few limited things the federal government is actually supposed to be doing. And btw… Thought you leftist wanted the government out of the bedroom and off our bodies… Apparently you have changed your tune and now want what equates to cameras in the bedroom and weekly anal probes by bureaucrats….!!!’

  • Obamacare: The most unconstitutional piece of garbage that has ever been signed into law.

  • monacall

    just make up the answers…..like how many times do you have sex? oh how many hours are there in a day? 24 times a day….and how many sexual partners do you have? oh say, well lets see there is tom, dick, harry, and henry, or is it Henrietta. cant remember now how they want to be called. any more questions? but when the question of the gun comes up ALWAYS SAY “NO” ALWAYS………..LIE LIE LIE LIE LIE LIE

  • monacall

    this president wants us to revolt…he wants a reason for martial law….and he is pushing a lot of people….it wont be long. sad but true….if this guy stays in any longer, and things don’t start to turn around in this country, like employment, repeal obozocare, it will explode….people are getting very tired of him….very tired

  • lilchit

    WE can tell them we’re all virgins.

  • Lori

    People will lie…plain and simple.

  • craig

    another person spreading more fears and lies. McCarthyism is back

  • Travelassie

    I figure that denial of any such activity is the best way to go.

  • Linda

    All these type of regulations and rules are unconstitutional, period, end of subject, People just all need to say no, I will not answer that.

  • Linda

    Don’t you think this is exactly what they want. It is so blatant what they are doing.

  • Linda

    yea, They called it a penalty at first if you didn’t get insurance so the Supreme Court changed the name to a tax so they could pass it. They can call it a tax all they want but it is not. If you don’t do what they tell you to do it is a fine.

  • ksteve

    We can just repeal the 16th amendment which started 80% of the problems we have with our runaway government spending. It’s possible that Roberts’ opinion on the matter could be the ‘tipping point’ we needed. Let’s study how to repeal #16 and take our country back from the brink of disaster.

  • ksteve

    16th amendment- Repeal it and the whole mess goes away. For forever,…or at least until the voters forget and we begin to throw money at whiners again. Take away the politicians’ means to fund their own obsessions and we gain a nation back.

  • Paul Hosse

    I won’t be offended by their questions as long as they won’t be offended by my “none of your business” answer.

  • CharmsDad

    I have long believed we need to end income tax, but it will never happen. There are far to many influential lawyers, bureaucrats and politicians who make rather substantial incomes from the management of the income tax system. The bigger problem is that government programs, once established, never get eliminated no matter how outdated (which is why the US still spends roughly $2 million a year to keep a helium reserve for airships.) As to Roberts, he completely redefined the tern tax to fit his political agenda. In his definition a fine has now become a tax, which is clearly not true. What he wrote made it very obvious the decision had nothing to do with law or the Constitution and was ENTIRELY based on finding a way, no matter how irrational, illogical or ridiculous, to rationalize his support of an unconstitutional law.

  • doc holliday

    This personal information can be and will be shared with anyone who works in a hospital. This means, if you caught a bad case of ? and your wifes mother works in another hospital, guess what ?

  • doc holliday

    This information will also be shared with your assigned IRS
    agent, too – so you can be fined if they see fit. You just thought you were going to get a income tax return again.

  • ksteve

    Like heirs to a fortune who must now consider the best way to divide up the property which was carefully saved by the deceased benefactor, none would consider themselves particularly greedy or obsessive but often when these stand to gain monetarily, their character flaws (like greed & envy) emerge. The altruistic intentions to do what’s best for all the beneficiaries are deferred as they are replaced by subtle rationalizations convincing all parties to pursue a course which will most likely result in getting more than their beloved peers. Our local, State, and Federal officials behave in a similar fashion–we being the benefactors and all our tax revenues being the inheritance. These are not necessarily BAD people, but their character flaws emerge because they are sent to their respective offices to compete for benefits. As I think more about it, the availability of healthcare is likewise an inheritance granted by the healthcare community to the infirm. They are generally glad to provide it but competition (envy of the most/best) creates a market scarcity, which, in a capitalistic economy, produces higher prices and therefore, winners and losers. Governmental & quasi- market (insurance) interventions not only complicate the delivery but they poison the participants. Instead of seeing themselves as patients, they are players, competing for the most/best. But what other way is there? The only other way I can think of is Pay-as-you-go. But how could that be implemented fairly among such a diverse population with such diverse medical problems and resources? The most rational model for this and most other dilemmas is often too obvious to consider: The Family. Not a dysfunctional family but a family where there is a mutual respect and concern for each other. Oh, well that’s a pipe-dream, right? No sir. This is the only lasting way out of our collision course, I believe, and what we have is not sustainable–we will collide! Can we change course–YES, until we actually collide. The 16th Amendment must be repealed. Another, better revenue PROCESS will be introduced: Donations mutually made to fund mutually agreed upon results, accounted and audited according to mutually agreed upon requirements. It’s how a family works. Dysfunctional families are dysfunctional in part because they do not function this way. Yes it’s much more complicated than this but the principles of mutual concern and charity remain constant. Before you reply, think about it for 10 minutes and consider how your own family deals with individual appetites needs and desires–then respond. Isn’t the more difficult part convincing yourself to SEE other beneficiaries as ‘family members’? But we can do it–at least we should before we collide with the future.

  • Lena Pack

    get obomooo.out of the W.H.are we will see ONE WORLD ORDER.

  • Michael

    I understand, and agree with, the outrage over the privacy issue and the personal questions, none of which are important for patient care. I do have different perspective than some on Justice Roberts and his ruling about the constitutionality of the Obummercare tax. My understanding is that he stated that congress has the power to tax. A fine would not be constitutional, but since congress levied it as an additional tax, it was legal. I believe he was quite smart to label it a tax. The democrat controlled congress levied an additional tax on the poor who could not/would not purchase obummercare! Why haven’t folks picked up on that?? Congress passed an ADDITIONAL TAX on those who don’t play ball in the new obummercare arena! Call it what it is—another (expletive deleted) tax. Selective tax, but a tax nonetheless. Just like myriad other taxes, such as Federal Excise Tax, and other “hidden taxes” most folks don’t even think about.

    Have a great day!!

  • CM2013


  • LS

    Pleading “The 5th” seems to be a legitimate answer for anyone in the government. I wonder if that would be ok for an answer to bypass the “tax”. Maybe we could even get a “paid” vacation, oops, I mean a paid suspension!

  • Curious

    If you want to know the truth about the Affordable Healthcare Act go to

  • mmburg

    The House of Representatives has special powers that no other branch has. It has the power–
    1. To start all revenue (money) bills.
    2. To impeach civil officers.
    3. To elect a President if no candidate receives a majority of the electoral votes.

    My question is related to #1, how did the Supreme Court uphold the PPACA as constitutional when the PPACA was started in the Senate and not in the House?

    Revenues (taxes) are to start in the House.

  • Cathy L Clark

    Well, all you morons that voted for obamacare…it is now coming home to roost and bite you in the a$$. Hope you like what you’re getting.

  • Chris

    Anyone remember the song “Alice’s Restaurant”? If not, find it on youtube. Sing a few bars and they will leave you alone!