Bill would block Massachusetts insurers from sharing private health info

A recently introduced bill in the Massachusetts legislature would prevent insurers from sharing private health information with anyone except the patient it concerns when several people are covered through one plan.

Currently, Massachusetts insurers are allowed to send an explanation of benefits, including the medical services received, to the plan's primary subscriber, reports MassLive. 

If the proposed legislation passes, insurers would instead have to use a common summary of payments form, which wouldn't include such sensitive health services as treatment of substance abuse disorders, mental health problems or sexual or domestic abuse. Insurers would also have to allow the patient to choose where the summary form is mailed.

The bill's supporters say that without these changes, young adults, for example, frequently skip medical care for sensitive issues for fear of their parents finding out, according to MassLive. Young women--45 percent of whom were insured through their parents' plans last year--may be particularly concerned if they have different reproductive health views than their parents, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

"Insurers' current billing and claims practices unintentionally but routinely violate basic confidentiality protections for anyone covered as a dependent on another person's policy," Democratic state Sen. Karen Spilka, who introduced the bill, told a joint legislative committee Tuesday.

To learn more:
- read the MassLive article
- read the text of the bill