Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Parental Access

With dread, I learned our health insurance was changing. Over the past years, I'd gotten to know all the rules and the mechanics of our provider and for the most part, it was working like a well oiled machine. It has taken the better part of this month and many phone calls to get the right prescriptions sent for the right item, to get some pre-authorized, and to verify purchase and payment. 

Yesterday, I hit an unexpected snag. The representative from the new company asked to speak to my son, age 14 years. I asked why? It seems that as a parent of a teen, I have no right to manage or access his account unless he gives me permission. Luckily, we homeschool, so he was present but if he'd been away at a school, I would have had to call back for the man was insistent that I could not talk about William's account without his permission. 

Would I be allow to PAY for William's account without permission? But, of course! Snarkily, I told the rep good luck getting payment since William was now responsible for his own account. In all the previous years with the other company, not once was I asked if William was present and allowed me (his mother!) to manage his account.

I shared this outlandish situation on a Facebook forum for T1D moms, and was told that one member had to have their toddler give permission and the kid couldn't even talk! In general, the rule is for sexually mature kids, which evidently means about 13 years, so that the kid has access to doctors and care for birth control, etc without parental involvement. If a kid, however, uses health insurance for that purpose, the parent will see the claim, just not the reason for the claim. You pay with no information. Parent then goes to the child, which defeats the purpose of anonymity. 

While I understand the idea behind the law, here's the thing. He is 14 years old and has all the forgetfulness of a teen. There is no way I would turn over ordering medical supplies to him. He has no way to pay for those items. He would not order them on time or even have any knowledge right now about how to do so. So to say that you can lock out a parent that has full responsibility for ordering and payment is absurd. 

There is a way around this: I have set it up so that my husband and I have full access to both each other's and my son's accounts. It is a ridiculous step because, even though my son gave assent and knows I'm doing it, access could have been granted online without his knowledge if I posed as him. 

So, even if your child is little, you might want to check that you have full access to all medical records and all online ordering information before you actually need to. Don't assume because the child is a minor that you will be able to govern their account. 

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