The open enrollment period for the new health insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act begins October 1, 2013. Americans will have until January 1, 2014 to come into compliance with the new law by purchasing health insurance coverage resulting in a surge of people looking to purchase health insurance from these health insurance exchanges in the coming months.

Most people will have several questions and need help navigating the maze of different option and requirements for each insurance plan. Millions of Americans will be need assistance in weighing their options and in order to do so, they will need to disclose personally identifying information and personal health information. The health insurance exchanges will have people assigned to the role of helping consumers determine what their options are, called navigators. These navigators will ask the individual for their Social Security number, medical history information, name, address and more in order to adequately assess their options under the Affordable Care Act.

We posted an article a few weeks ago regarding a coalition of State Attorneys General who expressed their concerns regarding the Affordable Care Act’s navigator program. Their primary concern was the lack of safeguards in the hiring process of navigators who will have extensive access to consumers’ personally identifying information and protected health information. The lack of criminal background checks make it possible for people with a criminal history, possibly including identity theft, to be employed as navigators.

This is a very legitimate concern as medical identity theft is one of the most devastating forms of identity theft. A victim’s medical records can be mixed with the identity thief resulting in misdiagnosis of illness or a doctor prescribing incorrect medicine. In addition, medical identity theft is incredibly difficult to resolve as the thief could potentially use the same medical identity multiple times, accumulating hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills.

This concern has led California State Assembly Minority Leader Connie Conway to introduce AB 1428. This bill would require “prospective employees, contractors, subcontractors, volunteers, or vendors, whose duties include or would include access to confidential information, personal identifying information, personal health information, federal tax information, or financial information” of Covered California to submit to the Department of Justice fingerprint images for the purpose of detecting any past state or federal convictions.

California has taken the initiative to resolve any inadequacies in the navigator program with this bill and other states may soon follow. AB 1428 has passed both the State Assembly and Senate and awaits Governor Brown’s signature.

"Legislative Update – California Taking Obamacare Navigator Issue Into Its Own Hands" was written by Sam Imandoust, Esq. He serves as a legal analyst for the Identity Theft Resource Center. We welcome you to post/reprint the above article, as written, giving credit to the author and linking back to the original posting.

 

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