Doctor visit or trip to the hospital been part of your agenda? If so, you’ve undoubtedly been given a paper to sign stating your health information is protected.
The privacy of individually identifiable health information has been protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which affects health insurance and healthcare providers. You and your senior give authorization regarding who can and who can’t be given your medical information.
Personal medical information includes all past, present and future information, such as actual medical record information and diagnoses, test results, images, how the provision of medical help was paid, information that can identify you (such as social security number), notes about your physical or mental care, and billing information.
Knowing and understanding your rights and those of senior loved ones is the first step in being able to assure they’re protected.
Your Rights Under HIPAA
- You can get a copy of your records. There may be a fee for the photocopying or mailing but not the searching and retrieving. You should be given your medical records within 30 days if they are on site.
- You can expect that your information will not be shared with anyone you don’t authorize — including employers or healthcare providers.
- You can learn who has viewed your health information, which is known as an accounting of disclosures.
- You can correct information you feel is not right and add items you feel are missing or incomplete known as right to amend. It should be updated within 60 days or a note included stating your disagreement if they feel the record is not incorrect.
- You can request that your information not be shared with any particular individual or group.
- You can request that companies, including your own health insurance carrier, are not told about the medications or tests you take if you pay for them yourself and they are not billed to insurance.
- You can request that any contact with you be made in a specific way such as in an envelope, not on a postcard, or via a phone call to a number that is not at your home. You can also request that answering machine messages not be left.
- You have a right to notices of privacy from providers.
- You have the right to file a complaint about providers or insurers who breach your rights.
- You should be notified if there has been a breach by a healthcare provider or organization and, as a result, unencrypted information has been shared by someone not authorized to view it.
Personal Responsibility Still Important
Yes, there should be a degree of comfort knowing personal health information is protected when dealing with a provider or organization covered under the HIPAA Privacy Rule. However, if you store your personal records with a private company, on your home computer or you post your information online as part of a support group or message board, not to mention on a social media site such as Facebook, that information is not protected by the law.
Remember: don’t post any health information that you don’t want to be public
Your health information is personal and should not be shared with those who may not act in your best interest or use it for illegal purposes. Safeguards have been put in place to protect your health information but unless we are aware of our rights and be sure they are not violated, damage can be done.
Know your rights and protect yourself and your senior loved ones.