Privacy. A highly valued personal right in the United States. And I’m a fan, particularly when it applies to a closed bathroom door, me on the inside of the bathroom and everyone else in my house, including the dog, on the outside of the door.
But it’s a rather odd value as well, given the apparent need for the general public to inform the world of every hiccup, giggle (LOL) or other inane activity via the likes of internet social sites like
So in some ways, the privacy issue seems moot. We don’t live in a country where Big Brother scrutinizes our every move, but then we don’t have to, since we tell everyone our lives’ most intimate details with no prompting at all.
Yet privacy is a really big deal to some of the powers that be. Take the good folks at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. They would be the ones who established the HIPAA Privacy Rule back in 1996, to govern the legal disbursement of health related information. HIPAA stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and the intention was to make sure that entities with access to an individual’s health information kept it private unless given permission to release it. So your health information remained your business and unavailable to prying eyes.
The policy applies to every adult over the age of 18. Can any of you parents out there guess where I’m going with this?
No 18 year old in the world wants to be responsible for her own health information. For that matter, neither does any 22 year old or any 23 year old—male or female. I can personally attest to it. My guess is that no “adult” under the age of 28 wants that responsibility, and I’m only picking that number because my kids haven’t gotten there yet. When they do, look for a revision.
The basic problem begins with the assumption that an eighteen year old is an adult, a concept every mother on the planet knows is downright laughable. How can a person who thinks that a bag of Goldfish crackers, nine Bagel Bites and a liter of soda constitute a balanced meal, be an adult?
But back to the brains behind HIPAA. Because they have decided that my kids are adults, I cannot invade their privacy and have access to their health information.
Newsflash, folks: They don’t want privacy. What they do want is for me to handle any and all of their health related issues, from now until forever.
Believe me, it’s not that I haven’t tried to pass the reins to my kids. I’ve accompanied them to appointments and handed them the twelve page forms they need to fill out to get past the gatekeepers and see the Great and Powerful Oz (or any doctor of the day), only to be met with confused and slightly terrified stares along with the plaintive plea, “Can’t you do this?”
I’ve sat silent in rooms as doctors asked questions and the kids immediately looked at me for answers. I’ve heard my son, 23, on the phone with a nurse, say “Hold on. I have to ask my mom.” I’ve watched the three of them panic over insurance forms. (Insurance that we pay for—we just can’t ask questions about it.)
So if some government agency wants to insure privacy, give me a sign to put on my bathroom door. As far as my kids go, they’re only too happy to share.