California lawmakers understood that talking to your parents, guardians, or partner about sensitive issues like birth control and STI testing can be tough. That's why, in order to encourage you to seek the care you need, laws have been put in place to make sure you have access to confidential medical services related to:
- Birth Control, including Emergency Contraception
- Testing and Treatment for STIs, sometimes called STDs (ages 12 and over)
- Pregnancy Testing and Prenatal Care
- Abortion Services
- Mental Health Services
What does confidentiality really mean?
It means you can access all of these services without anyone else finding out. You can get treated and the clinic or doctor can't tell your parents or guardians. In fact, your doctor is required by law to ask for your consent before releasing any of your information. But if you use your parent's or spouse's health insurance to pay for the test, you need to take an extra step to keep the information private. Thanks to a new law called the Confidential Health Information Act, you can complete a simple form called a Confidential Communications Request telling your insurance plan to send all information about the sensitive health care you accessed directly to you, and not to your parent. To find step-by-step instructions on how to submit a Confidential Communications Request, visit myhealthmyinfo.org.
It's important to know that in some situations, your provider may be required to share your personal health information with others outside of the care team. These situations would include if your provider thinks you are putting yourself or someone else in danger, or if you are having sex with someone and there is a large age difference between you and the other person. This is called mandatory reporting. Learn more about the mandatory reporting laws in California here.
Even though you have a right to confidentiality, talking to someone you know and trust about what you are going through can help. If you aren't ready to talk to your parents, find another trusted adult or friend.