Labor: Extend My Health Record opt-out period

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Shadow health minister Catherine King has called on the Turnbull government to extend the three-month opt-out period for the My Health Record.

From last Monday, all Australians have until 15 October to opt-out of having a record that provides an online summary of their key health information, where they can store, access and share their health information.

The My Health Record has the widespread support of most stakeholder groups.

However, the opt-out system has attracted some criticism with reports of people experiencing long delays in contacting the Australian Digital Health Agency. Privacy concerns have also been raised and one Turnbull government MP, Tim Wilson, has publicly declared his intention to opt-out.

nib CEO Mark Fitzgibbon has said he is hopeful its 1.5 million members will permit the insurer to have access to their records because it will improve patient care and health outcomes.

Paul Lupo, CEO St.LukesHealth, has backed the My Health Record as an advance that will allow treatments to transition from "generic to person based, centred around the individual and their needs rather than the population at large."

In a statement, Ms King said the opt-out period should be extended because the current three-month period may not be sufficient time for people to make an informed choice. She also called on the government to launch a "comprehensive information campaign" to educate the public about the My Health Record.

"There has been significant and growing community concern about the My Health Record since the beginning of the opt-out period on 16 July," she said.

"The Government has failed to effectively communicate with the public about what the My Health Record is and the potential benefits it could bring. It has also failed to explain to people how their rights will be respected and their privacy protected.

"This approach has fueled suspicion and skepticism – which could be why tens of thousands of people rushed to opt out in the first week.

"Labor supports e-Health and the My Health Record, but Labor is concerned that the Government’s implementation of the opt-out process has seriously undermined public trust in this important policy."

Health minister Greg Hunt has said people are free to opt-out but that he is confident the participation rate will remain at over 90 percent. 

According to Mr Hunt, "One of the reasons it hasn't necessarily been talked about enormously through the public is because with six years of operation, six million Australians and no breaches and people finding that the system is working for them, it hasn't been an area where there have been breakdowns or problems."