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Bill helps protect privacy for vulnerable, needy

May 20, 2015

cap-smallVulnerable Patients to Get Increased Privacy Protection
House passes HB 2758 to shield privacy of at-risk insurance consumers
By House Majority Office,

Oregonians seeking sensitive medical treatment would have the ability to seek further privacy protections in insurance communications through a bill that passed the House 34-25 this morning.

House Bill 2758 allows insurance consumers to redirect their “Explanation of Benefits,” which is sent out by insurance companies detailing services rendered, to a different address than the policy holder. This bill will increase confidentiality for these patients so they can seek needed medical services without fear for their health or safety.

After most medical visits, insurers send to policyholders an Explanation of Benefits, which can include details of a person’s visit. This can be dangerous for a survivor of domestic violence and her children to access health care, as an Explanation of Benefits statement can lead to a survivor being tracked by her abusive partner, even if she has fled from the violent situation.

HB 2758 will change the law so that patients get the chance to have those details sent to them, and not to someone else.

“Without privacy protections, those who fear the disclosure of their personal information may delay seeing a doctor or even forgo critical health care all together,” says Rep. Jennifer Williamson (D-Portland), who co-carried the bill. “This can leave people, particularly the most vulnerable, effectively uninsured.”

During committee hearings, legislators heard numerous stories about vulnerable patients who needed this key confidentiality protection.

“Survivors of violence and trauma are among our most vulnerable,” says Rep. Carla Piluso (D-Gresham), who served as Gresham’s chief of police. “Providing them with peace of mind as they seek necessary medical treatment is a small step we can take to increase their likelihood of long term health and safety.”

The bill now heads to the Senate.

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