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OT: Need urgent help with dilemma!
Hopefully my title was clear enough, as I know a lot of people have been having problems with all the off topic threads on here. If you would like to help me with my problem that is not related to weight loss, thank you so much and read on!
I'm 19 years old (yes, another one of those teenagers taking over PT!) and I will be a sophomore in college. I have been living at home this summer after my first year away from home. At the beginning of the summer, I went to the gynocologist because while at school I was sexually active on one occasion. It was a "one night stand" type of thing, a mistake I was ashamed of and regretted. Without going too much into it, it is not how I had expected to lose my virginity, much less how my mother had expected! My parents are extremely religious and conservative and expect me tor remain a virgin until marraige.
Anyway, at the gyno they strongly urged me to get tested for STDs, which I did after making sure that my privacy would be protected. I did use my parents' insurance but I was assured that my parents wouldn't know I was tested for STDs. My tests came back clean.
Fast forward a few months. There was a problem with my bill - for some reason, my insurance didn't go through. I'm not sure what happened. Today I got a letter saying that my bill was delinquent and that they are turning it over to a collection agency. I told my mom about it because I am under her insurance, without really thinking. She then said she would call tomorrow and get to the bottom of it.
Now I am completely freaking out because when she calls to talk about my bill, I am afraid they will tell what the charges are! She did mention that the bill is a "number she doesn't recognize", meaning higher than she expected compared to her own doctor visits. I am so worried she will find out about my STD testing.
Does the doctor's office have an obligation to tell her what I am being charged for, since the insurance is under her name? Or will they protect my privacy and not tell her? They are already closed but I am going to call first thing tomorrow and ask that they protect my privacy as they said they would, but do they have to disclose what they are charging since my mom is paying for it?
I am so scared because it will be the end of my relationship with my mom if she finds out. I am not exaggerating or being dramatic - my parents are extremely religious. While obviously I disagree with them, I still care about them and I don't want them to be upset with me. They are still supporting me whiile I am in college and it is a very real possibility that they will stop supporting me if they find out I've had sex.
Please give me some advice, any of you older and wiser people who know about these things. All I know to do right now is just plead with the doctor's office!
Thu. Aug 2, 8:38pm
Your doctors are not allowed to tell your parent anything. Nothing. Zip, nada. It is illegal for them to tell her what the charges are for.
Breathe a sigh of relief.
Thursday, August 02, 2007, 8:56 PM
Call them first thing and warn them that you dont want the info disclosed. That's what I would do.
Thursday, August 02, 2007, 9:14 PM
it would be a little hard for an insurer to get away with saying "We're charging you for X because it's not covered, but we're not going to tell you what x is- it would make for a great opportunity to scam people. Your doc may not tell- but whether or not your insurer is bound by the same privilege that a doctor is, I'm not so sure about.
They're not likely to say "STD test" they might say lab tests or something- I'd thinkn of some excuse to give your mom as to why you needed a test- be it a yeast infection, throat infection, anemia, whatever...
Thursday, August 02, 2007, 9:20 PM
Make sure that they know you are over 18. Since you are an adult, it is illegal under HIPAA (a federal act) for them to tell your parents what the charges are for.
Thursday, August 02, 2007, 9:21 PM
I work in the medical field as a provider in mental health services, different I know but I do believe however that the HIPPA laws cover your confidentiality in this respect. They release information to the insurance provider, but not to your mom. I would ensure i followed up with a phone call however to make sure that the office is very sure that you are totally on top of this and you EXPECT your confidentiality to be guarded. You know how dumb people can be sometimes without realizing it and then your only recourse is to file a compliant that they violated your rights, big deal if your parents cut you off ya know? Be firm, but polite with the billing department in regards to your rights. It is your right to confidentiality. You are over 18, so it should be fine. Check out this website. You might find helpful information. Good luck sweetie. Sex isn't bad~ http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/hipaa/
Thursday, August 02, 2007, 9:26 PM
Thank you all so much for your advice. I do remember filling out a HIPPA form last time I went. I thought it had to do with just my mom calling and asking questions rather than things related to insurance and payment. I went on my doctor's office's website and they had a section called "Your Privacy". There it said that they can disclose personal medical information to relatives if related to payment, unless you object. So I just planning on calling first thing tomorrow and making sure they know that I object. The doctor I saw told me that my insurance did cover the tests so if they don't I will definitely file a complaint because she misled me. I am a bit worried still - like what if they tell my mom I asked for my personal info to not be disclosed? Then she'll come to me and ask me why and I'll have to make something up. Or what if there is a problem with the insurance company. Like 9:20 said, I might be in a bit of trouble there, though I suppose I could say it was a yeast infection test.
Again, thank you so much for your help! I will update tomorrow to let you know how it goes! Oh and 9:21, I know sex isn't bad. I would be more willing to have my parents find out (though still not very willing for reasons I already gave!) if I had been in a serious relationship. They would just be so incredibly ashamed of me if they knew I had a one night stand. It wasn't the right thing to do and its bitting me in the ass now, but I guess I learned a valuable lesson!
Friday, August 03, 2007, 12:50 AM
Why don't you just pay for the tests with your credit card and not go through insurance? Surely your relationship with your parents is worth the couple hundred bucks the tests probably cost.
Friday, August 03, 2007, 9:29 AM
I wish I had done that, 9:29, but its too late now. The doctor assured me that it would not say what the tests were for on my parents' insurance bill so there was no reason why it would be a problem. I think the problem is that they have the wrong insurance number, because my doctor told me the tests were covered by insurance. I can't imagine why she would tell me that if it weren't true!
I did call today and I basically told them, don't reveal any of my personal medical information. And they said okay! That was pretty much it. I still don't feel like I am completely out of the woods yet because if there is a complication with the tests being covered or something comes up during my mom's conversation with the doctor's office... I mean, there are things that could happen that could cause a problem, but its more like my mom having a reason to be suspicious than them telling her anything. I guess I will have to deal with that when I come to it.
Friday, August 03, 2007, 10:06 AM
My doc once totally blew it with the confidentiality thing, right when I was leaving for college. I had been to her, and had gotten a Depo Provera shot, and I paid for it on the spot, and made them promise not to send a bill to my parents, but to send it to me if there was any additional paperwork. They wrote all that down, promised, etc. Well, just a few days later, the bill arrived at my parents' house, and my mom opened it. Clear as day, it listed, "Depo Provera," and $0 due (since I had payed for it already.)
My parents were so pissed, they forbade me from seeing my boyfriend! (I was 17; I guess it was within their rights. But still, it certainly sucked!)
Anyway, in short, try and intercept phone calls and mail, and follow up with the doc's office and insurance companies regularly, so they are all well aware that there will be a problem if your parents find out.
Friday, August 03, 2007, 12:39 PM
in the future, you can opt to go to a clinic instead of using your folks' insurance.
Friday, August 03, 2007, 12:44 PM
When my daughter was about your age and in college, she called me late one night very ill. I was traveling out of state at the time, so her roommate drove her to the emergency room and stayed with her. The ER doctor who saw her diagnosed her with pelvic inflammatory disease, assuming she was sexually active and had been partying with multiple partners. (She hadn't been, and would have told me so if she was. That's not a slam on your parents -- I'm just a lot more liberal and it wouldn't have upset me as much as it would your mom.) He ignored her repeated insistence that she was not sexually active and kept treating the condition he assumed she had. As part of that, he ran all kinds of STD tests and was administering treatments related to STD until the tests all returned negative. Meanwhile, she recovered from what was probably severe food poisoning - and maybe all those antibiotics he gave her helped in the end.
Bottom line here, as it relates to your problem is that doctors sometimes run those kinds of tests routinely on patients your age, because they mistakenly assume that all college students have multiple sexual partners. If your mom happens to grill the clerks at the doctors office or insurance about the specific charges and they mention that they ran an STD test, you can honestly tell your mom that the doctor routinely runs them on college girls and you didn't refuse. From what you've written here, I think you can also tell your mother that you're saving yourself for marriage. It sounds like you regret this experience and probably will not have a sexual relationship with another guy until you're ready to marry.
Good luck. Don't be too hard on yourself. Things have changed a lot and it isn't easy to be a virgin in today's society. What's important here is that you seem to have a responsible attitude about sex and don't plan to party indiscriminately. I respect and applaud your decision.
Friday, August 03, 2007, 12:49 PM
why would doctors just assume that college age people have multiple sex partners?
Friday, August 03, 2007, 1:03 PM
in this day and age, with all of the potential diseases we're aware of and how easily one can become stricken with one, i think it's easier than ever to be a virgin!!
Friday, August 03, 2007, 1:05 PM
University doctors DO see a lot of STDs, and their diagnoses are shaped by what they have seen before. I bet that 90% of illnesses they treat are:
3) broken bones
This is because they have a relatively young population, so they don't worry much about arthritis, Type 2 diabetes, uterine cysts, and other problems that are more common among older people. They are very efficient at diagnosing these things -- but not always very good at thinking outside the box.
Friday, August 03, 2007, 1:16 PM
i think that's assuming a lot about doctors and sells them short.
Friday, August 03, 2007, 1:22 PM
I'm the poster whose daughter was assumed to have STDs...
Doctors do make those assumptions about college students, but they do it for a reason. STDs are a serious public health issue, and college students are a high-risk group. That isn't my personal opinion - it's a fact supported by sound data.
If you're waiting to jump down my throat accusing me of making false assumptions about college students, save your breath. I've worked in higher education for 20 years, and I've worked closely with students as well as medical and campus law enforcement, and I know and understand college students.
Some of those 20 years were at a medical school, so I've worked with the medical students and the physicians who train them.
I understand and support physicians' efforts to fight the increase in STDs, so I can understand why the guy who treated my daughter focused on PID early in his diagnosis of her illness. Where he erred was to not consider other diagnoses when the pt and her roommate repeatedly told him he was "barking up the wrong tree."
But I digress...that is not the purpose of this thread.
The young woman who started this thread is distressed about her situation and the purpose here is to give her sound information and advice.
Friday, August 03, 2007, 1:36 PM
whatever. if a doctor just makes assumptions and does not believe his/her patients are telling the truth, and that is how they are trained to handle and address college-aged patients problems, there is something fundamentally wrong with that and needless costs are associated with the tests they assume are necessary. as a young woman who is about to enter college, i would think that the OP would care about the subject.
Friday, August 03, 2007, 1:58 PM
Well also, patients lie all the time. People especially tend to lie about their sex lives, home lives, and worker's comp cases. And people honestly forget things, like medications they are already taking. Or they don't tell the doctor things that are important. (I was admitted to the emergency room once, and overheard an interview a physician had with a women admitted for stomach pain -- 20 minutes into his trying to figure out what was going on she finally remembered to mention that she had stomach cancer!)
Keeping in mind that the doctor doesn't know each individual patient, and that lying college students look exactly like truthful ones, I can understand how the poor judgment came about in the case the other poster described. Statistically, an STD is a very likely and very serious problem, and patients often lie in hopes of avoiding the very situation the OP is in.
Friday, August 03, 2007, 2:44 PM
So what happened??? Did mom ask any more about this issue???
Saturday, August 04, 2007, 9:16 AM
12.38 - You should've sued, or at least have gotten that employee in trouble.
I work in multiple medically rleated feilds (volunteer at hospital and conduct research using 'sensitive' information). I'm only 17, but have had it made perfectly clear to me what HIPAA is about and how they'll royally screw me and my employers/etc if I say anything. Legally, I can't even go home and say something to my parents along the lines of 'Oh, I say so and so at the hospital today', ebcause for all you know, they might've not wanted people to know they were in, let's say, the AIDS clinic (not where I work, but you get the idea).
People need to stop being careless!
I think the most that your insurance can tell your mom is that a 'procedure' was done. Probably a micribiological lab is what they'll say. If anything else IS said, be sure to prosecute. They have no right.
Saturday, August 04, 2007, 5:07 PM
I'm older than the OP, just out of college but still on my parents insurance (we're lucky and I can be until 25). Anyways, I asked my gyno about having a screening done... I'm not the "college statistic" that our student health center assumes me to be, so I see providers off-campus that I've found who listen to what I tell them. My doctor said that it would show up on the bill as something along the lines of a "blood test" and not to stress about it. I've had blood work done before, so it shouldn't be that big of a deal as long as particulars aren't listed.
(on the topic of assumptions about young adults, I think telling your family that they assumed the test was necessary is valid. our student health center made one of my friends (a virgin) take a pregnancy test when she was routinely unable to keep food down... turned out it was an ulcer-type-thing, and she embarrassed them so badly, they won't ask her to take a pregnancy test again). :)
Saturday, August 04, 2007, 5:21 PM
You should be honest with your parents and they might be more understanding than you think.I'm not saying they won't be upset that would be a normal l reaction
for parents but if you open up to your mom, in the future if you go through something worse you can talk to them and not have the feelings of getting caught that you had.
Saturday, August 04, 2007, 5:38 PM
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