Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Young adults' privacy potentially jeopardized by insurance plans, researchers report

Date:
July 10, 2014
Source:
University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)
Summary:
Violations of privacy are increasing as more adolescents and young adults gain coverage on their parents’ health insurance plans, according to a new health policy report. Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), adult children now can stay on their parents' health insurance plans until they reach age 26. But because they are dependents on their parents' health insurance, they are not afforded the same confidentiality protections as if they had individual plans.

Violations of privacy are increasing as more adolescents and young adults gain coverage on their parents' health insurance plans, according to a new health policy report from UC San Francisco.

Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), adult children now can stay on their parents' health insurance plans until they reach age 26. But because they are dependents on their parents' health insurance, they are not afforded the same confidentiality protections as if they had individual plans.

The June 2014 policy paper, Protecting Adolescent Confidentiality Under Health Care Reform, was published by the UCSF Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies, with funding from Atlantic Philanthropies.

As of March 2013, an estimated 15 million young adults ages 19 to 25 were included on their parents' health insurance plans, according to the report. Of these, about 7.8 million would not have been able to enroll in health insurance prior to the ACA.

Health insurance plans automatically and routinely send communications, called Explanation of Benefits (EOBs), that among other things help policyholders manage items like deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses. However, the practice of sending EOBs to the primary policyholder threatens the confidentiality of dependents seeking services because these EOBs include private information including type of service, date and provider, according to the authors. The issue of disclosing private medical information for dependents, regardless of age, is especially acute when they are seeking sensitive services such as sexual and reproductive health, mental health and substance use treatment under the primary policyholder's plan.

"Adolescence is a unique time in life because they are transitioning to adulthood, learning how to navigate the health care system and are taking greater responsibility for their own health," said lead author Kathleen Tebb, PhD, assistant professor of pediatrics, in the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital San Francisco. "Their engagement and access to health care, particularly preventive care, is essential for long term health outcomes. When you can't protect confidentiality many adolescents, especially those most vulnerable, will forego the care they really need, like mental health services and sexual health services."

In the report, the authors interviewed 31 health care administrators, health policy experts, adolescent health clinicians, advocates and representatives from health plans to participate in individual telephone interviews. They were asked several questions about the extent to which EOBs have the potential to threaten confidentiality for adolescents and young adults.

The researchers concluded that the early phases of ACA implementation present a unique opportunity to address this issue. The researchers' paper proposes some solutions, but due to the complexity no single strategy emerged as the clear answer. The report presents the pros and cons of a number of different strategies.

"The conflict between consumer protection and confidentiality must be resolved," said Claire Brindis, DrPH, senior author and director of the UCSF Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies. "Patients should be able to access confidential care, including for mental health, while assuring that health insurance companies are also held accountable."

California is at the forefront of identifying potential solutions to reconcile the need for health insurance plans to communicate how their benefits are being used, while also assuring patient access to sensitive services. In 2013, California Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill (SB) 138, which allows patients to request confidential communications from health plans.

"The law's success, which takes effect January 1, 2015, will hinge on how it is implemented in the field," said Tebb. "Patients need to know and understand that they can request confidential communications, and systems need to be in place to make it easy for patients to understand and exercise their new rights in order to improve the unintended consequences from ongoing confidentiality breaches with EOBs."

The report can be found online at: http://nahic.ucsf.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/639265-0-000-00-020-EOB-Policy-Brief_FINAL.pdf


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). "Young adults' privacy potentially jeopardized by insurance plans, researchers report." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 July 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140710130554.htm>.
University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). (2014, July 10). Young adults' privacy potentially jeopardized by insurance plans, researchers report. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140710130554.htm
University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). "Young adults' privacy potentially jeopardized by insurance plans, researchers report." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140710130554.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

TheStreet (July 21, 2014) New research shows Gilead Science's drug Sovaldi helps in curing hepatitis C in those who suffer from HIV. In a medical study, the combination of Gilead's Hep C drug with anti-viral drug Ribavirin cured 76% of HIV-positive patients suffering from the most common hepatitis C strain. Hepatitis C and related complications have been a top cause of death in HIV-positive patients. Typical medication used to treat the disease, including interferon proteins, tended to react badly with HIV drugs. However, Sovaldi's %1,000-a-pill price tag could limit the number of patients able to access the treatment. TheStreet's Keris Lahiff reports from New York. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com
$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

Newsy (July 20, 2014) Cynthia Robinson claims R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company hid the health and addiction risks of its products, leading to the death of her husband in 1996. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tooth Plaque Provides Insight Into Diets Of Ancient People

Tooth Plaque Provides Insight Into Diets Of Ancient People

Newsy (July 19, 2014) Research on plaque from ancient teeth shows that our prehistoric ancestor's had a detailed understanding of plants long before developing agriculture. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Contaminated Water Kills 3 Babies in South African Town

Contaminated Water Kills 3 Babies in South African Town

AFP (July 18, 2014) Contaminated water in South Africa's northwestern town of Bloemhof kills three babies and hospitalises over 500 people. The incident highlights growing fears over water safety in South Africa. Duration: 02:22 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins