Managing your personal health and wellness can be overwhelming. You have to stay up-to-date with appointments, practice new health regimens, and remember how and when to take your medications.
When you are diagnosed with a new medical condition, it may feel like everyone knows your personal business. In a world driven by technology, keeping your medical issues private has only become more of a challenge. From cybercriminals hacking confidential databases to friends and family oversharing on social media, keeping medical issues private can seem impossible.
Though you may feel overwhelmed by an increasingly less private world, you can control who knows about your medical conditions. With these six steps, you can focus on overcoming your health issues while keeping your life private.
1. Get Your Prescriptions Mailed
Visiting a pharmacy to get prescriptions and supplies can feel like an invasion of privacy. Others may overhear your conversation with the pharmacist and see what you are purchasing. You can opt out of waiting in line at your local pharmacy to protect your privacy. Order your medications or medical supplies online and have them delivered right to your door.
There are multiple pharmaceutical services that will deliver medications and supplies to your home. You can order everything from DNA tests to genital herpes treatment from the comfort of your home.
Many of these services will ship your medications or tests in discreet packaging, too. This can help lessen your anxiety about picking up prescriptions and tests. Plus, it will keep curious neighbors and mail workers from knowing what’s going on with your health.
2. Research Your Medical Issues with Caution
How many times have you pulled out your phone to research why your throat is feeling funny? Or how to cure a rash naturally, at home? Thanks to smartphones, most people now have the ability to Google health information in seconds. While having fast access to research is a benefit, take care in how you search for health information.
Be sure to use only trusted sites when researching health information online. Try not to self-diagnose based on what you read on popular symptom checkers like WebMD.
When you search online for medical information, advertisers use these searches to their advantage. After you research medical issues, it’s likely that you will see advertisements that are eerily similar to those searches. (Like a service to help diagnose your concerns or a magical ointment that will help cure your mysterious rash.)
Whatever the advertisement is, you can prevent marketers from discovering these issues by avoiding the search bar. If you can’t fight the urge, do your search in incognito mode or with ad-blocking programs.
3. Know Your Rights at Work
Discussing your medical issues with anyone outside of your immediate circle can be unnerving, especially if they’re your employers.
There are a number of reasons you might feel intimidated to share medical concerns with your employer. As you approach these situations, it’s imperative that you know your rights.
Employers can’t discriminate against you based on medical issues or requirements.
They can ask you questions to make sure they are changing the work environment to accommodate your medical issues. For example, if you have low blood sugar, they might add a break time so you can grab a snack.
Employers can also ask about recent absences. And employers can ask about your health if they feel it will affect your ability to safely do your job.
There are several questions your employer can’t ask you, however. For example, your employer can’t ask your doctors for medical records or information regarding your health. If you give your employer permission to review these records, you have the power to review them first. This way, you can make sure you’re comfortable sharing the information.
Don’t volunteer more information than what you are asked. Your employers don’t need to know your extensive medical history.
4. Protect Your Medical Paperwork
Your medical paperwork has valuable information on it. Even if it’s a statement from insurance providers, medical paperwork contains sensitive information you don’t want others to see.
Storing your medical paperwork in a secure place will help you build a record of your visits, results, and expenses. If someone does steal your medical identity, your medical paperwork can be used to report this stolen data.
As you review your medical paperwork, make sure everything is accurate. If you see an error, like a doctor’s office you’ve never been to, report it.
If you don’t want to keep your paperwork, shred it before you dump it in the recycling. Or you can also scan and save your paperwork on a secure hard drive or a password-protect cloud storage program.
5. Don’t Overshare on Social Media
Don’t fall victim to oversharing. As tempting as it is to share your health successes and downfalls on social media, think before you post.
Sharing your medical issues on social media seems like an innocent way to get advice and support from friends. But you can actually be putting yourself at risk. Social media platforms aren’t required to follow and enforce HIPAA privacy policies. If you aren’t careful, sharing about your issues and recovery can end up in the wrong hands. You can subject yourself to insurance fraud or medical identity theft.
It’s always nice to get sympathy and support from others. But make sure your posts are marked with the privacy level you want and you trust the people who will see them.
6. Read Before You Sign
Part of going to the doctor’s is filling out heaps of paperwork. Read all of the fine print before you initial or sign your name on any document.
A lot of medical forms and contracts can have sections regarding information releases buried within them. By reading thoroughly, you can request changes according to your preferences so no information is shared without your express consent.
When you’ve requested all of the changes, only then is it time to sign on the dotted line.
Keeping your medical issues private doesn’t have to be another stressful chore for you. The easiest way to keep your issues private is to watch what you share. You have the power to control who knows about your medical history and conditions and who doesn’t.