Apparently, BCBS MA’s foray into invading patients’ privacy, which I detailed here, wasn’t good enough. Now, they’re planning on sending invasive surveys to all mental health patients. The surveys are “voluntary,” of course, but if too many of any particular practitioner’s patients don’t respond, s/he may lose his/her annual increase in reimbursement rates, so practitioners will feel under the gun to pressure their patients into responding.
See what the Boston Globe has to say about this. The Boston Herald printed an op-ed piece against it (I don’t know for how long that link will be valid) by Gerald P. Koocher, Ph.D., president of the American Psychological Association and dean of the Simmons College School for Health Studies.
I think I’ll fire off a letter to the Herald and Dr. Koocher.
The Herald printed my letter, with only a few minor changes, on November 29. They printed another letter a couple of days later in response to mine, from someone else who had the same thing happen to them.
From: Jonathan Kamens
Subject: BCBS MA invading patients’ privacy
Date: Sat, 25 Nov 2006 21:21:49 -0500
To the editor:
Blue Cross Blue Shield’s ill-advised plan to survey mental health patients is not their first foray into violations of privacy and confidentiality.
Blue Cross contacts subscribers to offer support for certain chronic conditions, conditions with which some of their subscribers have not been diagnosed! They use computerized algorithms to diagnose chronic conditions based on subscribers’ insurance claims histories.
My wife was offered support for a condition which she does not have. Her primary care physician was appalled when my wife spoke with her about this. She pointed out that the program may be illegal under laws defining who is allowed to make medical diagnoses.
Blue Cross agreed to fix the “bug” which caused the incorrect letter to my wife, but they refused to address the invasion of privacy inherent in the program, which for all I know continues to this day.
CC: Gerald Koocher, Ph.D.
P.S. I’ve posted additional details about the Blue Cross program at <http://blog.kamens.brookline.ma.us/~jik/wordpress/?p=30>.