Read this before signing up for Amazon Clinic

The CDC says millions of Americans are skipping doses, delaying refills, and taking other measures to save on meds. Add that to everyone who puts off visiting the doctor when they know something is wrong because it’s too expensive.

Healthcare and insurance talk aside, it’s always the right time to find other ways to save cash. Check your phone for monthly charges you can stop now.

Maybe you want to be your own boss. Here are the steps to start your own online business.

Looking for a cheaper way to get health care? An affordable option is Amazon Clinic, but can you trust it with your health information? Let’s take a close look.

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How much is too much?

It’s one thing for Amazon to know what kind of dishwasher tabs you use and which socks you wear. (It goes deeper than that, of course. Here’s how to see what Amazon knows about you.)

It’s another thing entirely for Amazon to have your health records. Book an appointment through the new Amazon Clinic, and you’ll meet with a clinician who can prescribe medication for anything from depression to thyroid issues.

Amazon shopping cart

In this photo illustration, an Amazon logo seen displayed on a smartphone along with a shopping cart.  (Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

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Amazon does not provide the care itself. It’s an intermediary between you and the people who will treat you. That’s where the problems begin. 

Not-so-protected health information

Though Amazon declares it is “compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA),” there’s more to the fine print.

When you sign up for treatment through Amazon Clinic, you also “authorize” all those involved (doctors, pharmacies, and labs) to share your Protected Health Information, or PHI, with Amazon. That includes:

  • Contact information, including your email address.
  • Demographic information, such as your date of birth.
  • Account and payment information, including insurance info.
  • Your complete patient file, including medical and billing records.

Amazon has the right to “retain, use and disclose this information” for two purposes: If a healthcare provider you used through Amazon Clinic leaves, Amazon will set you up with another one. 

Amazon can also use your PHI to “facilitate services from other providers.” It’s unclear who these providers are. Doctors? Or businesses looking to target you with ads related to your condition? 

Privacy 101: A secret ID in your phone reports much more than you’d think back to advertisers. You can delete it.

The HIPAA in the room

Say you’ve given it a lot of thought and are OK with this. You grant Amazon permission to use and disclose your PHI. Amazon may also “redisclose” this information, and “this redisclosure will no longer be protected by HIPAA.” If you’re confused, you’re not alone.

Remember, Amazon Clinic is not a clinic. It connects you with third parties, providing telehealth services with clinicians. 

Amazon is held to different standards when it comes to HIPAA, and you’d need an experienced lawyer to determine where Amazon’s permissions begin and end. I’m not one, but I like to play it safe with my privacy.

Security tip: Make sure you’re not accidentally sharing your location with apps or people

Here’s the safe bet

CCC_Tadiello_3815308_Patient turned nurse during a clinical rotation_04-14-23 Ashely Gibson nursing student Releases on File (Ashley Gibson/Cleveland Clinic)

Don’t sign up for Amazon Clinic. Ask your doctor for medical advice or find a reputable clinic for treatment. Odds are, your existing healthcare provider offers telehealth services. There’s no reason to hand over your most private information to a company that already collects so much about you.

You can revoke your authorization if you’ve already used Amazon Clinic and have second thoughts. You can’t simply opt out online. You must fax or mail a written request or fill out a form. They want you to work for it.

First, fill out this form or create a written request that includes your name, date of birth, address and phone number.

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Fax the paperwork to 206-266-7010 or mail it to the following address:

Amazon.com, Inc.

Attn: General Counsel

P.O. Box 81226

Seattle, WA 98108-1226

Jeff Bezos speaking at an event

Billionaire Jeff Bezos is bankrolling Fred Ryan’s next venture, the Center on Public Civility at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation. ( SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

NOTE: The revocation will not affect any disclosure that any HCP took before receiving your notice.

Keep your tech-know going 

My popular podcast is called “Kim Komando Today.” It’s a solid 30 minutes of tech news, tips, and callers with tech questions like you from all over the country. Search for it wherever you get your podcasts. For your convenience, hit the link below for a recent episode.

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