BOSTON — Senator Eric P. Lesser voted on Wednesday to pass a bill that requires healthcare insurers to keep patients’ treatments confidential.
Often, the treatments that minors receive appear on summary of payment forms delivered to the holder of health insurance policies, usually a parent. This can be detrimental to the health and safety of some minor patients, such as those who are abused at home or struggling with their identity in the LGBTQ community.
“Protecting people’s privacy, particularly minors’ privacy, in the healthcare they receive is vitally important to protect those suffering from abuse or domestic violence, women seeking reproductive healthcare, and those in the LGBTQ community who may not be out to their families but still need to feel safe seeking treatment. This bill closes a gap in our healthcare system to ensure safe, equal and confidential access to treatment,” said Senator Lesser.
The bill also requires the state Division of Insurance to develop a common summary of payments form to be used by all insurance carriers in the Commonwealth.
“Patient confidentiality is a foundational element of the patient-provider relationship,” said Senator Karen E. Spilka of Ashland, who introduced the bill. “Unfortunately, young adults, minors or victims of abuse are often reluctant to seek certain types of treatment, fearing that their personal health information will be disclosed to a parent or spouse. This bill is a crucial step to ensure all Massachusetts residents can safely access the health care services they need.”
The bill now goes to the State House of Representatives for its consideration.