Doctors are now restricted from disclosing the full sexual history of their patients to life and hea...
Doctors are now restricted from disclosing the full sexual history of their patients to life and health insurance companies, under new guidelines issued by the British Medical Association and the ABI.
Medical information and insurance sets out the information that should be released to companies processing health information, but does so in order to try and encourage people to get tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STI).
Doctors no longer have to reveal all aspects of the patients' sexual health history and are not required to disclose single or multiple incidents of STIs, providing there are no long-term health implications.
Companies are also no longer allowed to ask whether an insurance applicant has taken an HIV or Hepatitis B or C test, whether they have had counselling about such tests or received a negative test result.
But insurers can still ask if the applicant has had a positive test result, whether they are awaiting a test result or is receiving treatment for HIV/Aids or Hepatitis B or C.
Similarly, insurers are only allowed to enquire about the individual's health after their death if they have "reasonable grounds" to suspect health information may have been withheld when the policy was taken out.
Changes have been made in part to deal with the sensitive issues which can influence insurance underwriting, as well as damage client-patient confidentiality.
Additional work is also being conducted from tomorrow by the two bodies to suggest ways of improving applicants' understanding of what they are being asked to provide, as well as allow individuals to use medical reports from independent doctors, rather than their own GP.
Dr Michael Wilks, Chairman of the BMA's Ethics Committee, says:
"Doctors are only experts in clinical matters yet insurance companies often ask us about lifestyle issues such as sexual behaviour or drug use. These guidelines are important as they set out exactly how much information doctors can and should reveal."
He adds: "The person applying for life insurance is the only one who can answer truthfully and knowledgeably about risks to their health that they take as part of their chosen lifestyle."
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