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Home > Privacy and Business > Medical Privacy > Exceptions to Medical Privacy > Disclosure to Payers

Disclosure to Payers

The question of how much patient information should be made available to third-party payers and reviewers is a contentious one. It has increased in importance with rising health care costs and responsive changes in the health care industry.

Patients may be reluctant to have a great deal of personal health information given to insurers and health system administrators, who do not share the same prestige and confidence as doctors.

There is a natural minimum amount of information that must be provided to third-party payers, however, such as the identity of the patient and the treatment provided. These are essential to obtaining reimbursement.

Many health systems make extensive and increasing use of detailed patient information in order to improve treatments and reduce costs. Patients should have the option of not sharing information for this purpose, but they should be willing to pay higher prices for health care as a result. Stated another way, patients who are willing to reveal their health care information should be able to benefit from the improvements in efficiency they help create.

In any event, medical information that is shared with third-party payers must be held by them with the same duty to protect its confidence as the provider who collected or recorded the information.


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[updated 12/28/00]

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