It Begins… California Health Insurance Exchange Shares Patient Info Without Consent

california exchange

That didn’t take long.
The California Health Insurance exchange already is sharing patient information of tens of thousands of consumers without their consent.
Aljazeera reported:

The California health insurance exchange has been giving the names and contact information of tens of thousands of consumers to insurance agents without their permission or knowledge in an effort to make deadlines for coverage, raising concerns about privacy, a news report said.

The consumers in question had gone online to research insurance options but did not ask to be contacted, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday.

Officials with Covered California, the exchange set up in response to the Afforable Care Act federal health law, said they began providing names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses this week in a pilot program. They said they thought it would help people meet a Dec. 23 deadline to have health insurance in place by Jan. 1.

The state does not know exactly how many people are affected by the information sharing. Social Security numbers, income and other information were not provided to the agents, exchange officials said.

The pilot program meets privacy laws and was cleared by the exchange’s legal counsel, Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, told the Times.

But some insurance brokers and consumers weren’t pleased with the state’s initiative.

“I’m shocked and dumbfounded,” said Sam Smith, an Encino insurance broker and president of the California Association of Health Underwriters, an industry group.

“These people would have a legitimate complaint,” said Smith, who added he had been given two consumer names.

The names provided include people who started an insurance application on the Covered California website but didn’t complete the process.

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