Worries over Lack of Privacy in State Exchanges

health-and-human-servicesYou may recall that last week we posted on the Cover Oregon delays: these concerns directly feed into what the Oregon exchange and many other exchanges are doing around the country.

Thirteen state attorneys general wrote to Secretary Sebelius yesterday to say that they’re concerned that the Department of Health and Human Services is not adequately protecting the privacy of those private individuals shopping in the state and federal health insurance exchanges. Among their worries: that navigators and community partners aren’t being trained well enough to protect personal data.

“When the exchanges begin enrollment, various ‘navigators,’ assister, application counselor and other consumer outreach programs will begin inputting consumers’ private data into insurance applications to help consumers enroll in health insurance plans,” the letter states. “We take very seriously the privacy of our state consumers and believe that your agency’s current guidance regarding these groups suffers numerous deficiencies.”

The letter argues through three main points that with the employment of these navigators and assisters: there is a risk of inadequate training to protect the privacy of individuals using the exchanges; less consumer protection than in other contexts due to “the vague requirements in [the HHS department’s] guidance come up well short” of what is required of insurance brokers and agents; and, that there needs to be stricter requirements on screening individuals eligible for becoming a navigator.

You can read the full content of the letter here.