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Memorandum of Support

Empire Justice Memo of Support: Provide Victims of Domestic Violence with Improved Access to Health Insurance-Related Confidentiality Protections


S.1031-b (Klein)/A.3387-c (Cymbrowitz)

Domestic violence victims have reported that abusers have both become privy to sensitive medical treatment information, and have discovered their safe locations through health insurance-related correspondence, billing, and claim information- especially in cases where the abuser is the primary policy holder.  In addition, where they do not share a home addresses with their abuser, some victims report having experienced great difficulty accessing billing and claim information from insurers.  Because of these concerns, some victims have elected to forego health insurance coverage or health care for themselves, or their children, because of the fear of disclosure by insurers.  New York has previously enacted critical address confidentiality and disclosure protections for domestic violence victims with orders of protection in Insurance Law §2612.  However, that law has not adequately addressed the real and practical problems associated with insurance-related correspondence nor has it provided relief to victims without current orders of protection who have similar, legitimate safety and privacy concerns.    

If passed, this bill would bridge that safety gap by:

  • Extending contact information and service provision-related confidentiality protections to domestic violence victims who do not have an order of protection, but attest to their need for disclosure protections and safety;
  • Provide victims with the ability to designate a safer, alternative mailing address for all insurance-related correspondence and claim information.          


In addition, victim parents or guardians would be able to assert these safety-related privacy protections on behalf of their dependent children.   
   
To ensure appropriate implementation by the insurance providers, the bill directs the NYS Department of Financial Services Superintendent, in consultation with the Commissioner of NYS Department of Health, the Office of Children and Family Services, and the Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, to promulgate rules.  

If passed, this bill would significantly improve upon the existing inconsistent or nonexistent methods for victims to protect themselves and their children from their abusers.  It would also be consistent with and complement the growing number of confidentiality and privacy-related protections enacted on behalf of New York’s domestic violence victims and their children.    

Empire Justice Center strongly supports enactment of this valuable piece of legislation and urges immediate passage.

This memo was prepared by:


Amy Schwartz-Wallace

Empire Justice Center
Telesca Center for Justice
One West Main Street, Suite 200
Rochester, NY  14614 


(585) 454-4060
(585) 454-2518
aschwartz@empirejustice.org

05/21/12