The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, was introduced in 1996 to protect consumers’ rights regarding their health information. The HIPAA is comprised of the Privacy Rule, the Security Rule, and the Patient Safety Rule. The Privacy Rule protects the privacy of individuals and their health information. The Security Rule dictates certain security standards for all computerized health information nationwide. The Patient Safety Rule protects health information that is collected and analyzed in order to improve patient safety. In this article, we will go over how the HIPAA works and how you can use it to your advantage.

Who Must Follow HIPAA Laws

Groups and individuals who are legally required to follow HIPAA laws are called “covered entities”. Covered entities may include any number of health insurance companies, corporate health plans, Medicare, Medicaid, doctors, hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, chiropractic firms, nursing homes, dentists, psychologists, and more. The HIPAA laws were designed to cover as many practical areas as possible. These covered entities must follow a strict guideline of rules and regulations that affect how they handle your medical information. This keeps insurance companies from taking advantage of consumers because of past health problems. By disobeying the rules and regulations set forth by the HIPAA laws, any one of these covered entities may be held legally responsible.

Who Does Not Have To Follow HIPAA Laws

Contrary to popular belief, not all entities must follow the HIPAA laws. Groups like child services, law enforcement agencies, legal groups, schools, employers, workers compensation agencies, and life insurance companies do not have to obey HIPAA laws because your medical information can be relevant to their work. These groups have full access to your medical history and current medical state. If you want to disclude these organizations from having access to your medical information, you will need to file a form with the State and request that your medical information be kept away from the prying eyes of specific groups and agencies. Even with that, however, your medical information may still be available to them. A great organization to contact when trying to secure your medical privacy is the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

What Kind of Information Is Protected By HIPAA Laws

To ensure your privacy, the HIPAA laws specify exactly what types of medical information is protected. The HIPAA laws protect your medical information that is written in health care notes made by your physicians or health care provider, shared between physicians in conversation, electronic records, billing information, and generally any other information that concerns you and your health care provider.

How Is Information Protected By HIPAA Laws

The HIPAA laws ensure that covered entities take precautions in order to secure your privacy and medical information, that covered entities keep interactions with your medical information to a minimum, that covered entities sign contracts with you and other health care providers to ensure that your medical information is never improperly used or analyzed, and that covered entities limit access to your medical information by employees as well as training their staff to handle such information with care and consideration of both your privacy and the law.

What Rights Do I Have Over My Health Information

The HIPAA laws provide you with the following rights:

  1. The ability to access your medical history upon request.
  2. The ability to correct errors in your medical information.
  3. Receive information about how your medical information is used and for what purpose.
  4. Give permission for certain groups to use your medical information in a specified manner.
  5. Receive notice when your medical information is accessed.
  6. The ability to file a complaint with the health care provider or health insurer in question or with the U.S. Government if you feel that your rights are being endangered.

Who Can Look At My Health Information

The Privacy Rule of the HIPAA laws defines specific organizations that have access to your health information and how they are able to access that information. The idea is to protect your health information and securing your health care while still allowing certain groups to access the information that they need to do their jobs. Your health information is available to physicians and organizations if it is necessary to coordinate health care, compensate doctors and clinics for their services, file information to make it easier for doctors to know about your medical history, to treat relatives who may inherit the same medical problems, to coordinate with law enforcement agencies, to protect public health, or to ensure your safety and well-being while under the care of a physician or institution. Generally, physicians are not allowed to share your medical information with employers, use your medical information for marketing purposes, or share your medical information with other physicians or to the public without your permission, unless the HIPAA laws allow it.