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Practice Rounds: No Healthcare Privacy for Young Adults


Despite HIPAA protections, young adults still on parents' health policies have little privacy. In some states, that is beginning to change.

Welcome to Practice Rounds, our new weekly column exploring what's being covered in the larger world of healthcare.

Young Adults Have Limited Health Privacy

One of the protections afforded by the Affordable Care Act allows young people to remain on their parents' insurance policies until the age of 26. But that benefit also comes with reduced privacy protections. While the confidentiality of patient information is largely protected under HIPAA, Kaiser Health News reports that privacy is limited when a parent is the policyholder. While patients can request that payers block certain individuals from accessing their health information, those protections aren't guaranteed by law and vary widely across the country. In California, for example, insurers must honor requests to block access to health information if patients are receiving sensitive services.

Physicians Lag on Referrals for Lung Cancer Screening

Family physicians lag behind in low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) lung cancer screening referrals for high-risk patients, according to Diagnostic Imaging. Researchers sent out a questionnaire to members of the South Carolina Academy of Family Physicians, asking about referral patterns for lung cancer screening. While 76 percent of responding physicians discussed the risks and benefits of lung cancer screening with their patients, less than half of survey respondents said they made one or no referrals for screening in the past year. Physician concerns related to LDCT screening included: unnecessary procedures (88 percent); patient stress and anxiety (52 percent); and radiation exposure (50 percent).

Pharma Industry Highest-Ever Ad Spending

An annual ranking of 200 leading U.S. advertisers by Advertising Age found that pharma industry advertising rose 15.6 percent in 2015, more than any other industry reported FiercePharma, even surpassing travel and retail merchants. Driving that surge in ad spending was Novo Nordisk with a 195 percent increase to $261 million; Valeant Pharmaceuticals with an 88 percent increase to $441 million; and GlaxoSmithKline with a 56 percent increase to reach $948 million, according to Ad Age's top 10 list.

Primary Care and the Opioid Crisis

Primary-care physicians have found themselves in a quandary. They are professionally obligated to help patients who suffer from chronic pain, yet the most-often requested treatment (opioid drugs) is at the center of a growing addiction crisis. Medical Economics reports that per-capita opioid prescriptions grew by 7.3 percent from 2007-2012; two million people abused or were dependent on prescription opioids in 2014; and more than 1,000 people per day are treated in EDs for abusing opioids. To find out how physicians should respond to this crisis read "What Should Physicians Do About the Opioid Crisis?"

Quote of the Week

"A lot of doctors will transfer their interest in their captive insurance [company] as part of estate planning and provide that to their children or to their grandchildren. So they are giving away their captive insurance company as part of a trust. This is all part of legitimate estate planning as well."

Philip Garrett Panitz, JD, tax attorney

*Visit our law and malpractice topic resource center to read more on malpractice insurance.

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