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Pseudonymity: Constitutional judges check disclosure of insurance data

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The Federal Constitutional Court wants to critically examine the new possibilities for evaluating health insurance data for medical research and healthcare. "Due to the sensitive nature of many of the data collected and their widespread collection" could use it "deep encroachments on personal rights are connected", announced the court in Karlsruhe on Thursday. That needs a closer look. However, the judges refused to override regulations in the urgent procedure (Az. 1 BvQ 1/20).

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The statutory health insurance companies may anonymize the insured person's data or use a pseudonym. That was decided by the Bundestag in November 2019. It is about age, gender or place of residence, but also about certain health data. The central association of health insurance companies is collecting the data and is to pass it on to a research center that is yet to be set up. This should then make the data records available on request.

A man complained of a rare hereditary disease. He fears that it can be identified in the data. The judges now want to examine his constitutional complaint in more detail. Until the decision is made, the disadvantages for the plaintiff are of considerable weight, it says in its decision. However, the law provides for various security measures. Data stored incorrectly could also be deleted later.

There had been a lot of criticism of the law by Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn (CDU) before it was passed. According to experts, the draft law did not show how this sensitive patient data can be securely protected. Now the health insurance companies no longer transmit the data directly to the data collection point with the patient's insured number, but instead provide it with one "Delivery pseudonym", "which allows cross-register unambiguous identification in the reporting period". According to the reason, the insured person must be assigned the same pseudonym for a reporting period regardless of his or her health insurance coverage.

A trustee is then supposed to enter these delivery pseudonyms "cross-period uniform pseudonym" convict. However, it should not be possible to infer the delivery pseudonym or the identity of the insured person from this pseudonym.

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