California Bill Would Add Privacy Option in Health Insurance Paperwork

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California reproductive health and civil liberties advocates are waiting for Governor Jerry Brown to take action on a bill that would create a more private way for patients to receive information about sensitive health services.

The measure would allow patients to direct an insurance company to send paperwork dealing with some health services to another address, or by a different means altogether, like a cell phone.  

Maggie Crosby of the American Civil Liberties Union says the change could help people feel more comfortable getting reproductive services, mental health or substance abuse treatment.

“For example, college students who want to share with their parents themselves some intimate information like they’re using birth control. They don’t want the parents to learn about it by opening a form letter from the insurance company,” says Crosby.  

Insurance claim information may be of particular concern to adults under the age of 26, who are still covered by their parents’ insurance under terms of the Affordable Care Act.

Crosby says victims of domestic violence would also be able to redirect health information.

“Any health care that the patient says will put her in danger, if it’s disclosed to – say a partner,” Crosby explains.  

California health plans were initially opposed to the measure – citing administrative burden, but are now neutral.

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