Consumer Reports: Protecting your prescription medication information

You may already know the importance of protecting your social security, bank account, and credit card numbers, but what about your prescription medication information?

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.

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.

"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. Every year, ask for a free prescription history from one of the three reporting agencies," says Consumer Reports Investigative Reporter, Lisa Gill.

The agencies are Exam One, Milliman IntelliScript, and the Medical Information Bureau.

Who else is using your info?

Pharmacy chains might send you promotional emails for new medicines similar to the ones you take, so opt out of pharmacy reminders and ads if you have the option.

"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.

Consumer Reports also warns that a lot of hospitals and doctor's offices provide your information - without your name - to marketing companies or drug companies - and it is legal.

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," says Gill.

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.

Criminals can use medication records to get drugs illegally or file false insurance claims, so also think twice before allowing credit card numbers - and especially Social Security numbers - to be included in the office records of your pharmacy or doctor.

To read the full story from Consumer Reports, click here.
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