You’ve read it, and signed that you’ve read it, but did you get it? Just what is HIPAA? HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, is a federal law to prevent abuses of your personal health information. Here’s the lowdown on what it’s all about.
What is HIPAA?
WHO? Under the HIPAA rules the institutions and individuals who have to comply are anybody and everybody who creates and/or has access to your healthcare information – from hospitals, insurance companies, doctors, physical therapists, collection agencies to even your employer. Your health information is your business and no one else’s, unless you deem otherwise.
WHAT? What does HIPAA cover? HIPAA covers any personal health information from your diagnosis to claim form copies, and everything in between. This includes lab results, x-rays, doctors’ notes, voicemails, prescriptions, your address and social security number.
WHERE? HIPAA covers anything in your medical records, – in the doctor’s files, the computer, his laptop, or his trash can. Under law, your information is to be protected -always.
WHY? Why the big deal? Medical Identity theft is one of the largest growing areas of theft. Your credit card is worth, what, $8,000 if stolen? If your insurance information is stolen what’s your limit on it, $1,000,000 or more? Also, people who have access to your information can use it against you. Prior to HIPAA, it wasn’t unheard of to hear of people losing their jobs because they were diagnosed with a long term illness. Now these types of injustices can be prevented.
WHEN? When, is when you need to become involved? Doctor’s offices, hospitals and other healthcare services all have different guidelines on how long they maintain their records and WHEN they dispose of them. If you feel these records may be relevant in your future, your best bet is to request a copy of your health records and compile them yourself. You should update your records at least once a year. More often than not, people ignore their health, and their health records, until it’s too late. Don’t take anything for granted. If you need help check out www.mbaphp.com, a perfect tool to get you started.
Now you’ve read this, no need to sign, I just hope, now, you really get it.