Data brokers are offering sensitive mental health info for cheap

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As the need for mental health care grows and capacity tightens, patients are turning to telehealth and apps. Hispanics are especially likely to use healthcare apps which are not covered by privacy laws. Researchers found data brokers advertising easy access to very sensitive information for as little as $275. Brokers “advertised highly sensitive mental health data on  Americans including data on those with depression, attention disorder, insomnia, anxiety, ADHD, and bipolar disorder as well as data on ethnicity, age, gender, zip code, religion, children in the home, marital status, net worth, credit  score, date of birth, and single parent status.” Researchers from Duke University were easily able to access data from brokers, including free samples. Patients in the data sets include students, first responders, government employees, and members of the military. Unlike the EU, the US has no general data protection laws. Researchers called for regulations and transparency policies for healthcare data brokers. More on data brokers.

Among the 70 data elements for sale:

Name, address, zip codeDepression, anxiety, attention disorder, insomnia, bipolar disorder
GenderRisk scores for depression, anxiety
Date of birthPhysical health conditions such as diabetes, allergies, Alzheimer’s, heart problems, etc.
EthnicityMedical events
Marital, single parent statusLab data (genomic data)/biomarkers
Children in the homeData from management programs, disease registries, wearables
Ability to pay for healthcareSpecific medication uses and prescriptions
ReligionPrescriber information
Net worth, property tax assessmentsEMR data
College attendanceAverage costs per procedure
Likelihood of living in a high crime areaRisky health behavior data
Voter registrationBMI estimate
Health planReadmission risk score
 Medication adherence score
 Total cost risk score