April 20, 2019

MCLU faults 2 insurers for excessive inquiries

PORTLAND — The Maine Civil Liberties Union has filed a complaint accusing two health insurance companies of violating the privacy of its workers by seeking unnecessary information.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Maine and New York Life Insurance Co. requested information including prior medical histories, criminal records and even driving records, said Sally Sutton, the MCLU’s executive director.

The MCLU is seeking a new health insurer because its old insurance company is pulling out of Maine.

Because MCLU’s four workers already have insurance, the new insurer is required to cover pre-existing conditions, making it unnecessary for workers to provide full medical histories as a condition of acceptance, according to the complaint filed with the Maine Bureau of Insurance.

Sutton said Monday that most people believe erroneously that medical procedures are kept in the confidence of their doctors.

She said she was particularly concerned that the insurers wanted Social Security numbers and that workers were allowed to release medical histories of family members without telling them first.

Hugh Calkins, a lawyer working with MCLU on the complaint, said insurance companies should be able to collect only the minimum amount of information necessary to verify coverage and pay a claim.

“Medical privacy has been a priority for the Maine Civil Liberties Union, and they decided they better pay respect to their own employees, in addition to the general populace,” Calkins said.

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