Statement From HCFA ED Amy Whitcomb Slemmer Regarding The Senate Passage Of An Act To Protect Access To Confidential Health Care

March 10, 2016

Thursday, March 10th 2016

BOSTON - Health Care For All applauds the decisive vote to pass An Act to Protect Access to Confidential Healthcare (S. 2138) by the Massachusetts Senate. This legislation will prevent the disclosure of sensitive health care information through an Explanation of Benefits (EOB) form received by someone other than the patient.

Health insurers routinely send EOB notices detailing the type and cost of medical services received to the primary subscriber each time an enrollee on the plan accesses care. Confidential health information may be disclosed in an EOB, violating the basic right to privacy for anyone enrolled as a dependent on another's policy, such as a young adult, minor or spouse.

An Act to Protect Access to Confidential Healthcare establishes mechanisms to ensure that, when multiple people are on the same insurance plan, confidential health care information is not shared with anyone other than the patient. These protections include sending notices directly to the dependent rather than to the primary policyholder; allowing patients to choose their preferred method of receiving EOBs; providing only general information about the service or visit; and providing consumers the option to opt-out of receiving EOBs if no remaining balance exists on the claim.

We now urge the House of Representatives to advance this legislation so that An Act to Protect Access to Confidential Healthcare (S. 2138) can become law to effectively protect consumers throughout the Commonwealth when they seek care.