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Cignet Health fined $4.3 million for violations to privacy law Posted: February 24th, 2011

By Maryalene LaPonsie

Cignet Health of Prince George's County, Md. has become the first health insurance company to be fined a civil money penalty for violations of a federal privacy law. The company is being charged $4.3 million by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for multiple violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) privacy rule, according to an HHS news release.

The violations stem from consumer complaints filed with the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR). In the course of its investigation, the OCR found that 41 patients were denied access to medical records by Cignet Health between September 2008 and October 2009. Under HIPAA provisions, consumers must be provided copies of medical documentation within 30 to 60 days of their request.

In addition, the agency further penalized the health insurance company for its failure to cooperate with the OCR investigation. According to HHS, Cignet Health refused to respond to OCR requests for the records until the office went to court for the enforcement of its subpoena.