Bowing to an outcry over privacy, the Obama administration reversed itself Friday, scaling back the release of consumers’ personal information from the government’s health insurance website to private companies with a commercial interest in the data.
The administration made the changes to HealthCare.gov after The Associated Press reported earlier in the week that the website was quietly sending consumers’ personal data to private companies that specialize in advertising and analyzing Internet data for performance and marketing.
The personal details included age, income, ZIP code, tobacco use, and whether a woman is pregnant.
“HealthCare.gov should meet good privacy standards for all its users,” he said.
The administration is aiming to have more than 9 million people signed up by Feb. 15, the last day of open enrollment. Many consumers wait until the last minute to sign up.
HealthCare.gov was crippled by serious technical problems when it made its debut in the fall of 2013. This year the website has worked much better, a marked contrast. But the privacy issues were a reminder that the site remains a work in progress, like the underlying law.