It’s common to be covered by your ex’s health insurance policy, but it does carry some privacy risks. Your ex might be receiving statements from the insurance company about your medical procedures. Thankfully, Massachusetts has some protections to keep your medical information private — but you have to know to ask for them.
The 2018 PATCH Act: Protect Access to Confidential Healthcare provides three key protections available to you now.
1. Statements Do Not Include Certain Information
Statements no longer include descriptions of certain sensitive services such as mental health services, substance abuse counseling, STI testing, and abortion and pregnancy-related care. The name of your provider, however, will be listed. So, even if it doesn’t state the reason for the visit, your ex may see that you visited your OB/GYN three times in the last year.
2. Request your insurance statements to be sent directly to you, not your ex.
The PATCH Act allows you to have your statements, often referred to as the Summary of Payments, sent to the address of your choice. You can choose to have these statements mailed to your home address, or delivered electronically. It is very important that you submit a written request for your preferred type of delivery. Otherwise, the statement will be sent to your ex’s address.
3. Opt Out of Receiving Statements
If you are making 100% of the payments for certain medical care (not cost-sharing with your ex), then you can opt out of receiving those statements so your ex cannot access them. In order to do this, you must affirmatively state that you would like to suppress your statement related to the care. Although the request can be a verbal request, it is best to also submit a written statement. Also keep in mind: You must opt out each visit or procedure. Unlike changing the delivery address for your statements, opting out must be done each time you pay 100% of the cost for your care.
If you haven’t already gotten a copy of your health insurance card, now is the time to request it. If your ex refuses to give you a copy of the card and you have an active divorce or modification case, be sure to request a copy of the card in a Motion for Temporary Orders. Otherwise, you can file a Contempt for failure to provide you with the information. Courts have little tolerance for parties who withhold health insurance information the other party needs for their medical care.
For more detailed information about how the PATCH Act protects your privacy, check out this helpful resource from Healthcare For All Massachusetts.