Here's to Your Health

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Consumers are finding cures for what's ailing them - online. The number of online health seekers is growing at twice the rate of the overall online population in the U.S., and will reach 88.5 million by 2005, according to a recent report by Cyber Dialogue. The report predicts that over 40 million American adults will use the Internet to purchase health and beauty products and more than 50 million will connect with health care professionals online within five years. Currently, about 34.7 million U.S. adults, or 48 percent of all those online, use the Internet to find health information, and almost 7 million American adults are using the Internet to buy health products. But online health information doesn't get a clean bill of health. Sixty-six percent of Internet health-information seekers say they are "concerned" or "very concerned" about personal privacy. What's making their heads hurt? Online health seekers are concerned that insurers could use private, personal health data to limit or affect their insurance coverage, or that employers could use such information to limit job opportunities. In fact, many believe that the mere act of searching online could bring repercussions.

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