Newscasts

PNS Daily Newscast - September 18, 2018 


Kavanaugh now expected to meet his accuser at an open hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday. Also on the Tuesday rundown: An Albany rally calls for a million solar households; and #GetCaughtReading – a weeklong campaign for readers of all ages.

Daily Newscasts

Patient Privacy Fix “Needed,” Especially for Young Adults in MA

Alyssa Vangeli testifies in Boston on Tuesday for a measure that would protect patient confidentiality when accessing sensitive health services. Courtesy Health Care For All.
Alyssa Vangeli testifies in Boston on Tuesday for a measure that would protect patient confidentiality when accessing sensitive health services. Courtesy Health Care For All.
July 22, 2015

BOSTON - What you tell your doctor is private, but if you're a young adult in Massachusetts, sensitive information still could go to your parents if you are on their health insurance plan.

State lawmakers heard testimony Tuesday on a measure that would protect confidential access to health information.

Alyssa Vangeli, senior health policy manager at Health Care For All, sized up the problem for young adults in the Commonwealth:

"Your parents couldn't call the health plan and ask what kinds of health services you are receiving, because that's confidential information," she said. "However, that same type of information is routinely sent home to the parents, via an Explanation of Benefits form."

Opponents of the increased privacy provisions have said they could be too costly to implement, but Vangeli said public health suffers when young people avoid or delay treatment if they don't want to risk sensitive information being disclosed.

Megan Amundson, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, said the Affordable Care Act did a good thing by expanding health coverage - but the follow-through, in being transparent to policyholders about all costs, sometimes can violate privacy.

"It allowed adults up until the age of 26 to stay on their parent's insurance," she said. "An unintended consequence of that is that a growing number of adults are now staying on someone else's insurance. So, when they seek confidential services, all of those services are being send to someone else in the family."

Amundson said it's particularly troubling because some young people are delaying or avoiding treatment for sexually transmitted infections so their parents won't find out.

"We're seeing - obviously, if people aren't getting STI testing - that we see growing problems of STIs in urban areas, particularly in places like Boston."

Members of the Protecting Access to Confidential Health Care (PATCH) Alliance testified in favor of the measure. The alliance includes providers, advocacy and community-based organizations concerned with maintaining confidentiality in health insurers' communications with patients.

The bills being considered are S.557 and H. 871.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - MA