Ms. Lam shares that at some point in her life she needed to get treatment for depression; she was, however, too afraid to use her parents health plan because she knew that it would appear on their insurance statements, and at that moment she did not want her parents finding out about her condition yet. Her solution was to get the free counseling services her school offered, but she explains that it wasn’t enough, because what she needed was medicine. In the end, she chose to just not get the medicine at all, and waited until she was able to afford her own insurance before getting the treatment that she needed.
According to the research by Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center, UCSF, and ICF, many young adults refuse or hesitate to use some medical care like mental care, sexual health screenings, and birth control, because they are afraid that their parents would find out.
A law is currently present that gives dependents privacy, otherwise known as the medical privacy law or HIPAA. However insurance companies are only obligated to honor such requests if the dependent’s life would be in danger once their parents find out. Adding to this burden before they can avail of the protection of this law is that they would have to prove that their lives will indeed be put in danger when their parents find out about their condition.
California is one of the states that has taken the cases of many people like Dana Lam into consideration and decided to create a law that would allow them to request information to be withheld, by submitting a necessary form. This makes many California health insurance companies a viable option for young adults who seek secrecy. With this law, patients no longer need to explain why they need the secrecy, and billing information is sent to a different address.
The goal of this law is to make quality individual health insurance in California more accessible, and less intimidating. Aside from California, other states like Washington, and Maryland, and Colorado have all created laws similar in idea. With this, many are hopeful that people would maximize the benefits of their health care plans, as needed.
When Keeping A Secret Trumps The Need For Care, NPR, April 15, 2015