Lawmakers raise concerns that Healthcare.gov is sharing data with marketing companies

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Healthcare.gov screengrab

WASHINGTON — Top Republican and Democratic lawmakers on a powerful congressional committee want answers from the Obama administration about the sensitive personal information the government’s health insurance website is collecting from consumers and sharing with private Internet marketing companies.

On Thursday, House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz and the committee’s top Democrat, Rep. Elijah Cummings, sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell outlining their concerns.

According to a copy of the letter, “The committee is concerned … that sensitive consumer information submitted by visitors to HealthCare.gov — such as age, income and smoking habits — is being shared.”

The website is the online portal many consumers use to buy health insurance through a government marketplace.

The letter cited in an Associated Press story published on Tuesday said the HealthCare.gov website is “quietly sending consumers’ personal data to private companies that specialize in advertising and analyzing Internet data for performance and marketing.”

The story said the data’s scope and how it might be used was unclear, noting “there is no evidence that personal data has been misused.”

In the letter, Chaffetz, Cummings and three other committee members ask Burwell for information regarding “the scope of the information that has been shared, as well as the controls in place to protect the personally identifiable information of consumers.”

The lawmakers also asked the department to identify all of the third parties that HealthCare.gov shares sensitive information with and include: what data is shared, how the data’s use is restricted and what controls exist to ensure it’s not used commercially.

An HHS spokeswoman did not immediately return a request for comment.