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Your Last Opportunity To Opt-Out Of My Health Record Is Here

Labor will push to extend the opt-out deadline for the controversial My Health Record system by 12 months.

The opposition will seek crossbench support to extend government legislation, which is due to be debated on Wednesday, to impose new penalties for those who misuse the system and strengthen privacy protections.

About four per cent of Australians (1.147 million) have so far opted out of the electronic health record system, while more than 300,000 have opted in during the opt-out period which ends on Thursday.

However, the final opt-out figure is expected to hit 10 per cent.

Opposition health spokeswoman Catherine King said My Health Record promised huge benefits for people which participated, but they had been jeopardised by the Liberals shifting away from Labor's opt-in model.

"Their botched rollout has seriously undermined public trust in this important reform and it's going to take time to rebuild it," Ms King said in a statement.

Earlier in the week, Labor and the Greens teamed up to pass a motion calling for the government to extend the opt-out period.

Ms King said the current opt-out period would end before the government could pass legislation with extra privacy protections.

"The My Health Record opt-out period must not end until the clean-up legislation has passed the parliament."

She said the 12-month extension would also give the government time to reach Australians with a new public information campaign.

But Liberal senator Jane Hume said Australians have already had a "significant period" to opt-out of the initiative and will still be able to get rid of their record once the opt-out period lapses.

"At any point in time, you can remove yourself from the My Health Record program and you can delete your file, and it will be deleted permanently," she told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.

Health Minister Greg Hunt argues there have been no cases of misuse of information in the six years the system has operated, but the government was willing to provide further protections.

Under the changes, people found guilty of improper use of My Health Record would face up to five years in jail, instead of two, and the maximum fine would more than double to $315,000.

Victims of domestic violence would also be better protected, with abusive former partners banned from accessing their child's records.

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WHAT IS THE MY HEALTH RECORD?

- An online summary of an individual's health information, including allergies, medical conditions, treatments, medicines, and test reports, which can be shared securely with their clinicians.

- People can access their data online at anytime and can adjust how it may be viewed by health professionals and people they trust.

WHY IS THE SYSTEM CONTROVERSIAL?

- Concerns gathered pace about the security and privacy of the system in mid-2018, including the potential for law enforcement bodies to access the data.

- Another concern was that perpetrators of domestic violence perpetrators might be able to find the addresses of former partners, particularly if both are parents and have access to their children's health data.

- There are also fears private health insurers may one day be able to access the data.

HOW HAS THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT RESPONDED?

- Health Minister Greg Hunt announced in August plans to make changes so the records could not be accessed by police without a court order, and would be permanently deleted if cancelled by a user.

- The opt-out period for the program (which began in July) was initially extended by a month, pushing it out to Thursday, November 15.

- Earlier this month, Mr Hunt announced further changes based on two Senate reviews and other feedback, including harsher penalties for those who misuse the system.

- Victims of domestic violence would also be better protected, and private health insurers would be unable to access data even when it had been de-identified.

- The changes are awaiting the green light from parliament.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE OPT-OUT PERIOD ENDS?

- Anyone who hasn't elected not to have a My Health Record created for them by late Thursday night will have one by the end of 2018.

- Labor and the Greens want the opt-out period to be extended until after the latest legislative changes clear parliament.

AAP

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