Are Obamacare and medical coding part of a coordinated global system of human and child trafficking? No, that's not true: Obamacare, also known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA), is a comprehensive health care reform law enacted in March 2010 with the goals of making affordable health insurance available to more people, expanding the Medicaid program and lowering the costs of health care generally. Medical coding is the process of translating important medical information into simple codes for the purpose of documenting medical records and providing information for accurate medical billing, according to the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC). There is no evidence either one is connected to human trafficking.
The claims appear in a Facebook video (archived here) published on April 7, 2022, titled "Here is the video you requested." It begins:
... What if I told you, Obamacare was set up for one reason and one reason only, and that's to traffic children. Obamacare. It's the only reason it was set up. What if I told you that they invested so much money, they built three supercomputers in the university in Austin, Texas, that a mother can go to her gynecologist, find out that she's pregnant, and the moment he puts in the code, the child traffickers are following that mother in her pregnancy.
This is what the post looked like on Facebook on April 11, 2022:
(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Mon Apr 11 16:15:37 2022 UTC)
The video is from a lecture by David Straight. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) describes him as a "guru" in the sovereign citizen movement. Straight is also known for his eight-part video series "Out of Babylon." He markets his speaking skills through a website called David Straight Live, which provides this description:
When it comes to defending yourself against the B.A.R. association and the over-reach of government and government agencies, then you may choose to learn from David Straight.
This is how the ADL describes the movement:
The 'sovereign citizen' movement is a loosely organized collection of groups and individuals who have adopted a right-wing anarchist ideology originating in the theories of a group called the Posse Comitatus in the 1970s. Its adherents believe that virtually all existing government in the United States is illegitimate and they seek to 'restore' an idealized, minimalist government that never actually existed. To this end, sovereign citizens wage war against the government and other forms of authority using 'paper terrorism' harassment and intimidation tactics, and occasionally resorting to violence.
This is how the five-minute video appears on Facebook:
At the one-minute mark in the video, Straight lays out a conspiracy theory in which supercomputers in Texas keep tabs on people as part of a global human trafficking network. He provides no proof of his claims, only accusations that are tied to the start of Obamacare in 2010.
[The] Obamacare coding system removed doctor-patient confidentiality from the United States and the world. Don't think it just happened here. It happened all over the world in every United Nations country when that was passed. We started it.
But that's not true. Doctor-patient confidentiality is protected under HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. It's a federal law that required the creation of national standards to protect sensitive patient health information from being disclosed without the patient's consent or knowledge. It covers health care providers, health plans, health care clearinghouses and business associates:
The Privacy Rule ... gives you rights over your health information and sets rules and limits on who can look at and receive your health information. The Privacy Rule applies to all forms of individuals' protected health information, whether electronic, written, or oral. The Security Rule is a Federal law that requires security for health information in electronic form.
At about 3:30 in the video, Straight completes the circle of the conspiracy theory, suggesting the trafficking of people is the grease that keeps the world spinning:
The whole world revolves around child and human trafficking. ... Think what I told you about our birth certificates. We're being bought and sold legally to fund governments all over the world. ... They're also using our trafficked selves, our trusts to fund that.
The birth certificate claim is based on a convoluted view of U.S. law that is behind the foundation of the sovereign citizen movement. The Southern Poverty Law Center explains:
According to sovereign citizen researchers, the government has pledged its citizenry as collateral, by selling their future earning capabilities to foreign investors, effectively enslaving all Americans. This sale, they claim, takes place at birth. When a baby is born in the U.S., a birth certificate is issued, and the hospital usually advises the parents to apply for a Social Security number. Sovereigns say that the government then uses that birth certificate to set up a corporate trust in the baby's name - a secret Treasury account - which it funds with amounts ranging from $600,000 to $20 million, depending on the particular variant of the sovereign belief system. By setting up this Treasury Direct Account (TDA), every newborn's rights are split between those held by the flesh-and-blood baby and the ones assigned to his or her corporate shell account.
Lead Stories has previously debunked similar claims used by the sovereign citizen movement (here and here).
In an April 11, 2022, email to Lead Stories, the anti-trafficking group Polaris said the claims in the video don't reflect anything they've encountered in the real world:
In response to the claims about medical information being accessed by traffickers to track children, that is not a trend we've identified through our work and operation of the National Human Trafficking Hotline.
As Polaris has stated before, human traffickers are less likely to be members of a secretive network involved in a bizarre or convoluted scheme than they are to be someone the victim knows or even trusts. Misinformation about human trafficking and how it happens can be harmful because it distracts from the more disturbing but simple realities of how sex trafficking actually works, and how we can prevent it. If people are focused on these sensationalized or inaccurate versions of how trafficking situations happen, they may miss some of the more subtle ways that they or people in their lives may be groomed or lured into potential sex trafficking situations. Additionally, if these inaccurate stories become the dominant narrative, the vast majority of victims and survivors would not recognize their own experiences in these stories and would be less likely to self-identify and reach out for support.
The U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline can be reached at 888-373-7888.