HIPAA: Everything You Need to Know About This Privacy Rule

February 7, 2018

Our privacy is important to us. There are pieces of information about ourselves that we choose to keep confidential.

The same principle usually goes with any information that we learn from our health. As much as possible, we disclose important information about our physical and mental health conditions to those we can trust.

Thankfully enough, there is a federal law that secures sensitive information about our health. This law is known as HIPAA. Let’s discuss what HIPAA is all about and what are your rights under this privacy rule.

What is HIPAA?

HIPAA stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Enacted in 1996, this federal law was created to protect consumers’ health information.

This also gives you the right to have access to see and check your own health records in order for you to become more in control of your health concerns.

In compliance with HIPAA, healthcare and health insurance providers must keep all their everyone’s health information confidential. Therefore, they act as gatekeepers to your information from any unauthorized access.

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What information does it protect, exactly?

Through HIPAA, patient information called Protected Health Information or simply PHI is what this law protects.

PHI includes all “individually identifiable information” that concerns your current health condition, what kind of care you have received, and the payments in the past, present, and future.

Any personal identifiers that may reveal an individual’s identity and their medical and payment history could be the person’s full name, address, birthdate, Social Security number, and other sensitive information.

Who protects my records?

Collectively, those who are considered “covered entities” should comply the HIPAA Privacy Rule. The law lists different healthcare and health insurance providers who should keep information confidentiality at all times.

Going into specifics, covered entities are all individual healthcare providers. These are our doctors, specialists, nurses, and pharmacists. Also, medical establishments, such as clinics, nursing homes, hospitals, urgent care centers, rehabilitation centers, and the like.

Health insurance companies have to comply with the HIPAA Privacy Rule. These are your private health plans (like HMOs and PPOs), company health plans, and government healthcare programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

All healthcare clearinghouses should also comply with this law. These are private and public entities, like billing and repricing companies, that have direct involvement with PHI.

Remember that there are also entities that are not covered by HIPAA. These may include your employer, school districts, life insurance companies.

Also, any information you add to your health and activity tracking apps does not require compliance with this law.

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What are our rights under HIPAA?

Healthcare providers are required by law to explain HIPAA to their patients or clients. It is their duty to let them understand their rights under the law and will have to sign a document to prove that they have received the information.

As an overview, you will basically have the right to request your medical records whenever you want. Also, you are allowed to limit other people’s access to your PHI and you request to have your information corrected whenever it’s appropriate.

Finally, you can file a complaint whenever you think there is an unauthorized access to your PHI. Your doctors and specialists will not take responsibility once you send it to a third party.

Your safety and security matters, therefore keep in mind that you give your data only to the people and professionals you can trust.

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