HIPAA: Your Right to Health Insurance and Privacy
by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 was created to:
HIPAA protects your privacy and may also:
As a health consumer, you should understand what HIPAA means to your care. This can help you make sure that your information is being handled properly. You can also take action if it is not.
HIPAA’s Privacy Rule
HIPAA is perhaps most well known for its Privacy Rule. The Privacy Act gives people more control over who shares their personal medical information. It also makes it easier for them to access details about their own health and healthcare.
Protecting Your Information From Others
According to the Privacy Rule, healthcare providers can't show your health information to employers or others who are not allowed to view it. For example, they may not pass on information to companies who are thinking about hiring you or who want to add you to their mailing lists. Also, they may not share any information about mental health visits.
The Privacy Rule protects information in your medical record, such as talks with health professionals, electronic data, billing details, and most other health information.
There are times when information can be legally shared by:
Granting You Greater Access to Your Own Data
The Privacy Act also gives you greater access to your data. It used to be hard to view your medical charts and files. Now you have the right to know anything about your health. Under HIPAA, you are legally entitled to:
You also have the right to file a complaint with your healthcare provider or with the federal Office of Civil Rights if you think your information has been misused. Call the regional Civil Rights office nearest you for more information. You will be asked to describe what happened and the reason for your complaint.
Buying or Changing Health Plans
HIPAA offers some protections if you have:
Here are some protections that HIPAA provides:
What Organizations Does HIPAA Apply to?
HIPAA applies to anybody who deals with your healthcare, such as:
US Department of Health & Human Services
The US Department of Labor
Health information privacy. US Department of Health and Human Services Department website. Available at: https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/index.html. Accessed October 18, 2021.
Health insurance portability and accountability act (HIPAA). US Department of Labor website. Available at: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/ebsa/laws-and-regulations/laws/hipaa. Accessed October 18, 2021.
Statement of HIPAA portability rights. Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System website. Available at: https://www.azahcccs.gov/Members/Downloads/privacy/StatementofHIPAAPortabilityRights.pdf. Accessed October 18, 2021.
Understanding HIPAA privacy. US Department of Health & Human Services website. Available at: https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-individuals/guidance-materials-for-consumers/index.html. Accessed October 18, 2021.
Your rights under HIPAA. US Department of Health and Human Services website. Available at: https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-individuals/guidance-materials-for-consumers/index.html. Accessed October 18, 2021.
Last reviewed October 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board
Last Updated: 10/18/2021
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