Options for assuring access to confidential care for adolescents and young adults in an explanation of benefits environment

J Adolesc Health. 2015 Jan;56(1):7-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2014.10.262.


The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has expanded the enrollment of young people in insurance plans and aims to increase access to preventive health services. For adolescents and young adults to fully utilize these services, access to confidential care is critical, especially for sensitive services, like sexual and reproductive health care. With this expansion, the ACA inadvertently exposes more individuals (especially those with private insurance) to confidentiality breaches through routine communications in the form of Explanation of Benefits (EOBs) sent to policyholders (typically the parent). This commentary is based on a qualitative study of individual, semi-structured telephone interviews with 31 health care administrators, policy experts, clinicians, and health plan representatives. The study identified and examined five main policy options aimed at reconciling confidentiality protections and EOBs. While no one solution emerged, approaches that incorporate automatic system changes that do not require action from the patient or provider for protections to take effect were considered most effective for protecting confidentiality. The review of these policy options are designed to inform states and health care advocates confronting this issue. In addition, since many of these approaches are new, a better understanding of how they are operationalized and enforced is necessary to truly evaluate their effectiveness.

Keywords: Access; Adolescents; Affordable Care Act; Confidentiality; Explanation of Benefits; Insurance; Sensitive Services; Young Adults.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Health Services*
  • Adult
  • Confidentiality*
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Humans
  • Insurance Coverage*
  • Male
  • Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
  • Preventive Health Services / methods*
  • United States
  • Young Adult