BOSTON--Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts praises the Massachusetts Senate for overwhelmingly approving legislation that will close an alarming loophole in patient privacy protections.
An Act to Protect Access to Confidential Health Care, known as the PATCH Act, will ensure that when multiple people are on the same insurance plan, confidential health care information is not shared with anyone other than the person receiving services. Currently, insurers routinely send Explanations of Benefits (EOBs) detailing any services received to the primary subscriber of the plan rather than the person who received the care. This jeopardizes the confidentiality of individuals on their spouse’s insurance or young adults on their parents’ insurance plans.
The PATCH Act will ensure confidential health care information is not shared with anyone other than the patient when multiple people are on the same insurance plan by allowing individuals to request how and to whom an EOB is sent, and allow individuals to opt-out of EOBs if no payment is due. The EOBs would also use generic terms such as “office visit” rather than descriptions that could violate confidentiality.
Statement from Dr. Jennifer Childs-Roshak, president of Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts:
I applaud the Massachusetts Senate for its commitment to protecting patient privacy and breaking down a serious barrier to affordable health care. For too long, confidentiality fears have kept people from seeking important health care and counseling, or forced them to pay out-of-pocket rather than risk the possibility that their private health care decisions be shared with others. Whether someone needs birth control, testing or treatment for sexually transmitted infections, domestic violence counseling or other sensitive health services, access to that care must be affordable and confidential.
The PATCH Act will make sure no one has to make the impossible decision between caring for their health or being shamed or harmed by a family member. I thank the Senate for taking an important step to put those fears to rest and to empower every person in Massachusetts to access the care they need, without fear of shame, stigma, or punishment.
The Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts (PPAF) is the advocacy and political arm of the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts (PPLM). Formed in 1984, PPAF believes that working within the political process is critical to advancing PPLM’s mission to increase access to sexual and reproductive health services and comprehensive sexuality education for women, men, and families across Massachusetts. For more information, visit www.pplmvotes.org.