Parents, Health Care, and Children's Privacy

How our nation handles healthcare when it comes to children covered by their parents’ health insurance is a joke. We pay for children’s healthcare and yet must ask permission from them in order to become privy to any test results or conversations that children have with their physicians and alternate healthcare professionals from age eighteen on.  Let me say it again, “We pay for their healthcare!” Alternatively, we are required to sign a “parental proxy” to obtain test results for children younger than twelve. How is that right?

Certainly, if children are off on their own, paying fully for the entirety of their lives including their healthcare and health insurance, I can understand them having earned the right to complete privacy. But being able to leave the parent out of this part of their lives while at the same time expecting the parent to foot healthcare, health insurance and all related costs is gobstopping and simply wrong in my book.  

Children should not have a total right to privacy because they are children. This ridiculous set-up impedes the ability of the parent to help their child under normal circumstances but especially in situations where kids are emotionally or mentally compromised and vulnerable. Parental understanding, input, and oversight shouldn’t stop until their kids are off the family payroll.  Health insurance companies as well as healthcare in general should have no obligation to maintain children’s privacy when their parents are footing the bill for their lives. Their first obligation should be to the parent in these cases.

Placing the privacy of the child ahead of that of the parent paying the expenses of that child puts that child in harm’s way. It prevents parents from doing their jobs to keep our children healthy and safe, and it opens the door to mismanagement of children by healthcare workers who are simply too trusting and enamored by degrees. I’ve seen the results of such mismanagement first hand and to unravel that kind of mess requires years of heartache, work, and lost time, when all it would have taken to prevent this is the experience and wisdom of one parent to stand in the way in the first place. Then who is left to fix the situation created?  The parents, because they love their kids. Forced to wait to see what the ultimate fallout will be, we must then come to the rescue, pick up the pieces and swallow our words while doing it for the good of getting the job done. 

The entire system -- healthcare and health insurance -- is nothing more than a money grab on the whole.  This doesn’t mean that there aren’t wonderful exceptions toiling away in the medical ommunity.  But the structure within which they must work, as well as that which parents and kids must contend, has little to do with the health and welfare of patients or families. Quite the opposite. “Separate” and “medicate” is the philosophy behind this structure, without exception and in the case of parents and their children, it continues to the detriment of both.

Yesterday, I had to fill out a “parental proxy” to obtain the results of a COVID-19 test my twelve-year-old took at a local hospital facility.  Yup, I couldn’t have the results sent to me unless I filled out that piece of paper.  And yet, I pay for his health care, health insurance as well as everything else making up his life.  I gave birth to him and have taken care of him every step of the way.  And I was required to ask permission by this hospital facility to see my son’s COVID test results, the parent who took him to get the test in the first place?  If that isn’t idiocy, I don’t know what is.

I know I am not the only parent who feels this way.  When was it that those who serve us became the ones who dictated to us what we can and can’t do with regards to our children and their health? It used to be that healthcare and even health insurance companies supported parents in the raising of their kids -- “used to be,” that is.  I don’t know what the current system we have in place is but it definitely doesn’t aspire to help parents parent rather help parents fail their kids. 

Laura J. Wellington is a former teacher, an award-winning Author as well as children's television creator, TEDx Speaker, and the founder of THREAD MB. She began her career in technology.  

Image: John Bond Francisco

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