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An Act to Protect Access to Confidential Healthcare (known as the “PATCH Act“) was recently passed in Massachusetts.  Its purpose is to protect the privacy of health insurance information.  Currently health insurance companies send a summary or “explanation of benefits” showing the type of health care services received by all persons covered by the policy with the cost to the policyholder.  This can result in sensitive health care information being divulged.  Under the new law, insured dependents can elect to have the summary sent to them and not the policyholder.   The Division of Insurance is required under the law to develop an understandable common summary of payments form.  Insured members or someone who is legally authorized to consent to care for the insured may choose in writing an alternative method of delivery of the common summary of payments form other than the method established by the insurance carrier.  When an insured member has no liability for payment, the person can request the suppression of  the summary of payments form for the service.  Sensitive health care services as defined by the Division of Insurance will not be included on the common summary payments form.  “The division, in collaboration with the department of public health, shall develop and implement a plan to educate providers and consumers regarding the rights of insured members and the responsibilities of carriers ….”   There are different effective dates for the various provisions of the law (see sections 3, 3A, and 4 of Chapter 63 of the Acts of 2018).

See also our law about page on medical privacy.

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