SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- 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, like when you apply for life insurance, disability benefits, or long-term-care insurance.
For example, it's likely an insurance company hired a reporting agency to analyze your medication records and score your health risks. And it's fully legal. Consumer Reports says it's important that the information they know about you is accurate.
There are three agencies that collect your prescription history-just like credit-reporting agencies-and they keep a tally of all the prescriptions you and your family take. So every year, ask for a free prescription history from one of the agencies, which are Exam One, Milliman IntelliScript, and the Medical Information Bureau.
Who else is using your info? Pharmacy chains are legally allowed to remind you about refills, but they can also send you promotional email for new medicine similar to the ones you take.
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CR says to opt-out of pharmacy reminders and ads if you have the option, AND ... be careful about joining a drug discount program. It opens the door to marketing and more phone calls.
CR says there are others who might be legally sharing some of your prescription data.
A lot of hospitals and doctor's offices remove your name from your prescription history before sharing it with marketing or drug companies. If you don't want this to happen, ask your doctor to opt-out of having your information used this way.
And remember to keep your pill bottles and receipts private. Safeguard it all, even shredding the receipts. And if you can't get the labels off the containers, that's when you get the black Sharpie out.
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CR says that medication records can also be a gold mine for criminals, who may use them to get drugs illegally or file false insurance claims. So think twice before allowing credit card numbers and especially Social Security numbers to be included in the office records of your pharmacy or doctor.
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How to protect your prescription drug information
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