Yes, I'll pay cash
August 22, 2010 6:28 PM   Subscribe

Is there any way to get a gynecological exam and all the accompanying tests in NYC anonymously? I don't want to potentially screw up my soon to be acquired health insurance.
posted by itmightbecheese to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
More details about what you want and why you think it could screw up future health insurance would be helpful.

I don't think you can receive elective (i.e., not about to die) medical care anonymously. You can pay cash and not have it reported to your insurance. However, if you have to certify that you don't have pre-existing conditions to acquire your insurance and you do have some sort of pre-existing condition, you're taking a chance.

Planned Parenthood or a similar organization is probably your best bet. If you pay cash, and don't go back there with insurance, they will have not reason to release any of your records to the insurance company. Which is about as close to anonymous as you can get with respect to your insurer.

Please note: The laws around what information health care providers can release and to whom are complicated. Generally, a providers cannot release information about your care to anyone without your permission unless they are sharing that information for the purposes of providing care, paying for care, or for quality improvement (which could include things like internal case review or regulatory oversight). BUT, if you receive care somewhere and pay cash, then receive care there again and file insurance, there is a chance the insurer could request information from your cash-paid visits as well.

Also, in NYC there may be some clinics that provide care to the indigent or homeless or other populations desiring anonymity.
posted by jeoc at 6:51 PM on August 22, 2010

If you're paying with cash what's to stop you from using false information?
posted by msbutah at 6:55 PM on August 22, 2010

Free and confidential sexual health clinics in NYC, funded by the city. I think they are primarily STD testing.
posted by tip120 at 7:08 PM on August 22, 2010

I've never seen truly anonymous medical testing, but pseudonymous testing is readily available for cash customers. IANAL, but I understand that in America, you are free to use whichever name you choose on any given day, as long as you don't have the intent to defraud.

Some medical providers have started demanding to see government ID even for cash customers, for reasons I don't completely understand (I assume that they adopted the "everybody must show ID" requirement to avoid credit/insurance fraud, since only a negligible proportion of their customers pay cash). However, it's still possible to find providers who don't require ID.

To guard against having your contact information data-mined and correlated in the future, you may wish to temporarily rent a mail drop (not foolproof, but I'm betting that the USPS maildrop owner records won't become public in the next few decades) and get a cheap pre-paid cellphone (again, not foolproof if archived GPS phone data becomes public in the future).

Getting a prescription filled pseudonymously is probably a bridge too far, what with the insanely draconian American laws relating to all things pharmaceutical. Fortunately, it sounds like you're just looking for testing, not treatment.

(This discussion seems like something out of a Gattaca-esque dystopia, but there you have it)
posted by Dimpy at 8:26 PM on August 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Maybe Private MD Labs. Not sure what test you're looking for, but here's a list of their "Female Specific" tests

their anonymous testing is explained here

posted by tremendo at 9:17 PM on August 22, 2010

IANAL, but I understand that in America, you are free to use whichever name you choose on any given day, as long as you don't have the intent to defraud.

I am not yet a lawyer and the following is not legal advice.

Without intending to pass judgment on whatever your plans are, OP, I would not recommend relying on the quoted advice as such. Obtaining health insurance without fully disclosing pre-existing conditions you become aware of, sure sounds like fraud against your insurer. I do not know your full situation and cannot make any recommendation about what you should do next -- and I have absolutely no idea whether your insurance company would be likely or unlikely to catch you in the omission -- but please do not act under the apprehension that your actions will definitely be legally unimpeachable.
posted by foursentences at 9:46 PM on August 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

Go to a new doctor. DO NOT enter any insurance information on the intake form. Get your exam. Pay cash.

You will be invisible to the insurers. The only time your name comes past an insurers eyes is when you use their service. If you do everything out-of-pocket and don't have any insurance information on-record at that doctor, you should be fine. Without insurance information, the doctor's office will have no reason to run your information through the system.

I second going to Planned Parenthood. Both for anonymity and holding-down the costs of getting an exam and tests.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:09 AM on August 23, 2010

ANAL, but I understand that in America, you are free to use whichever name you choose on any given day, as long as you don't have the intent to defraud.

Ah, but her intent is to defraud - the insurance company. Currently in the US, HIPAA provides protection against unreasonable preexisting condition exclusions (in the group market, primarily) by limiting the "look back" period, so that, if she has been treated or diagnosed with something within the six months before enrolling, that may be used as a preex. So, if she gets treatment and doesn't disclose it, that is fraud that could lead to rescission of her coverage.

If the soon-to-be coverage is in the individual market, she may be subject to preex exclusions on an even stricter basis.

You are probably thinking about this backwards - if you wait until you are actually covered, wouldn't your care for this be covered? You won't be dropped for (or otherwise "screw up") routine GYN care and tests.
posted by Pax at 8:24 AM on August 23, 2010

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