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Insurance Notices Threaten Young Adults’ Privacy

Young adults can remain on their parents’ health insurance policies until they turn 26, but when they use it for counseling, pregnancy tests, addiction treatment, or other services, insurers frequently notify their parents via routine explanation-of-benefits forms...
January 17, 2018

Young adults can remain on their parents’ health insurance policies until they turn 26, but when they use it for counseling, pregnancy tests, addiction treatment, or other services, insurers frequently notify their parents via routine explanation-of-benefits forms. This poses “a pressing threat to confidentiality,” according to Harvard Medical School professor Lauren E. Wisk in a new JAMA Pediatrics commentary. She warned that as a result, young adults and teens might forgo necessary treatment, such as for screening for sexually transmitted infections.

Wisk suggested establishing legislative policies that limit payer notifications when sensitive services are provided to dependents. She noted that some states have taken measures, and others are proposing measures, to prevent insurers from notifying parents about their young adult children's medical records. In the meantime, Wisk urged healthcare providers to discuss with young adults what information will be disclosed to their parents and ways to possibly avoid sensitive disclosures.

 

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