Washington health plan members will get direct communications in 2020

October 01, 2019
By Regence

Members of Washington state-based health insurance plans will get personalized communications starting in 2020 as part of a bill lawmakers passed in April.

Senate Bill 5889 involves the confidentiality of communications that health insurance companies send to their members. It ensures that communications involving certain sensitive conditions go to members, or the person who received the care, rather than the subscriber, the person who signed up for the health insurance.

The law defines sensitive conditions as care involving:

  • Reproductive health
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Substance abuse
  • Gender dysphoria
  • Gender-affirming care
  • Domestic violence
  • Mental health

This means communication about treatment for any of those conditions – Explanation of Benefits (EOB) information, claims communications, bills and attempts to collect payment – all must go to the person who received the care. It not only includes printed communications but also voice or email communications with customer service, for example.

Health insurers like Regence already comply with requests for confidential communication, meaning members can request that communications go only to them and not a subscriber. But the new law mandates that communication about sensitive conditions automatically go only to the member unless otherwise authorized.

It also means that dependents, including children, would receive these communications rather than their parents, unless the child or other dependent authorizes that information to be shared.

Regence members in Washington can expect to receive more details about this change in the coming weeks.

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