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Your Rights to Medical Privacy Under HIPPA Posted: April 1st, 2010

By Sanford Ellowitz

Sanford Ellowitz is a New York State licensed insurance agent. He is also a Certified Financial Planner and a Certified Employee Benefit Specialist. He has over 25 years experience in the insurance and financial services industries.

New HIPPA rules have been issued regarding breaches of information. Find out how these rules affect you and your health insurance.

HIPPA Rules and Your Medical Privacy

The Health Insurance Portability and Privacy Act, or HIPPA, is a federal law that ensures the privacy of your health information. If you've been to a doctor or hospital in the past few years, you've undoubtedly seen a form telling you about your HIPPA rights. Distracted by whatever brought you to the doctor, you probably just glanced it over, rather than taking the time to understand it. Most people aren't sure of what these rights are and how HIPPA's regulations affect them.

HIPPA guarantees you the right to get a copy of your records and lets you correct any wrong information in them. Worse than preventing you from getting cheap health insurance, incorrect information can prevent you from getting insurance all together. Under HIPPA, you must also be notified of how your health information is used and stored, and your provider must inform you of these and other rights when you receive service.

New Regulations for Breaches of Information

The Department of Health and Human Services, which implements the act, recently issued new regulations concerning breaches of health information. These regulations are part of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009. The act recognizes that with the implementation of electronic health records and the electronic exchange of medical information, protecting you from breaches of your health information will become even more important--and potentially difficult--than ever before.

If a breach occurs, healthcare providers and other HIPPA covered entities, such as Medicare and Medicaid, will have to individually notify those affected if more than 500 individuals are affected. If fewer than 500 individuals were affected, an annual report to the department must be made.

Some State Rules Even Stronger

The federal government is not alone in issuing regulations safeguarding your privacy. Individual states also have their own regulations, in some cases in response to unauthorized release of a celebrity's records. These regulations are in addition to the federal rules and in many cases are even more stringent than HIPPA's.

Not Strong Enough?

The Institute of Medicine recently issued a report stating that HIPPA rules aren't strong enough and may hamper medical research. It said that new laws should be developed to cover that area. As more money is spent on research, look for more rules to be developed.

Sanford Ellowitz