What To Know About HIPAA As A Patient

What To Know About HIPAA As A Patient | HealthSoul

HIPAA is among the country’s milestone legislations. But how does it benefit you as a patient?

The legislation was introduced in 1996. It’s meant to address two major issues. First, it secured insurance coverage for people with multiple jobs, who initially lost their coverages for the mere reason that they were between occupations.

HIPAA was also focused on the prevention of healthcare fraud and fortifying and constraining access to any “protected health information” by healthcare providers. Indeed, this was a big win for citizens from all walks of life across the nation.

Overview of the HIPAA ACT

HIPAA implementation is vital for healthcare facilities to protect the integrity, security, and privacy of health records. The regulatory standards were established to ensure legal disclosure and usage of protected health information.

The HHS (Department of Health and Human Services) is responsible for compliance regulation. On the other hand, OCR (Office for Civil Rights) handles compliance enforcement. The OCR is also charged with offering continuous guidelines on any trends and development that affect the health care sector. Finally, OCR also investigates HIPAA violations.

Why Was HIPAA Created?

Identity thieves are always looking for personal healthcare data. The rapid technology advancements offer new and elusive ways of stealing massive chunks of vital patient information. As a result, the healthcare sector’s data security and privacy measures have attracted a lot of attention.

Healthcare providers now have to be fully aware of the regulations and implement them. If they fail to understand the rules or violate the security procedures intentionally, they risk penalties like facing mandatory structural reorganization or hefty fines.

  • Unknown violations – Where the provider couldn’t have been aware or wasn’t aware, they’ll pay a fine of between $100 – $50,000 per record.
  • Reasonable cause – If they should have been acquainted with reasonable diligence (like a repeat violation), or they already know, the fine will range from $1,000 – $50,000 for every record.
  • Willful neglect – If they acted with willful neglect then fixed the issue within 30 days after the incidence; the fine will be between $10,000 – $50,000 for each record.
  • Uncorrected willful neglect – If it was a case of willful neglect yet the provider failed to fix the issue within 30 days, the fine per record would be between $50,000 – $1.5 million

HIPAA regulations emphasize healthcare security and citizen protection. If the fines aren’t sufficient motivation for healthcare providers to fortify their data, every patient behind the statistics also matters. The overall results of HIPAA compliance are safer patients and more secure protected health information.

What Does Protected Health Information (PHI) Entail?

According to HIPAA privacy guidelines, PHI refers to any individually identifiable health data that can individually or jointly disclose your identity. It covers vital information like your name, address, contact details. It also encompasses any patient data that relates to:

  • Your past, current, and future mental and physical condition
  • Provision of healthcare services or treatments
  • The previous, current, and future payments for our healthcare services or treatments

Consequently, PHI’s definition covers health plan coverage, car registration details, or even the patient’s handwriting.

For instance, if a nurse took a picture of a patient’s wounds to brainstorm on the most effective treatment with their colleagues, it’s possible that a distinguishing feature could reveal their identity. According to HIPAA privacy guidelines, this simple picture is considered to be PHI.

How HIPAA Benefits Patients

Understandably, patients are the greatest beneficiaries of HIPAA. The legislation focuses on ensuring healthcare facilities, health plans, and third-party associates of the covered entities implement the appropriate buffers to shield private and health data.

Of course, no health facility wants to reveal sensitive patient details or have their critical records stolen. But if HIPAA regulations weren’t there, there would be no requirement for these organizations to review who they share the information with, who accesses the records, and who can view the data. What’s more, there would be no punitive measures if they failed to protect your crucial data.

Besides controlling access, viewing, and sharing data, the legislation also ensures that any data that health plans or healthcare providers receive, create, store, or transmit is handled under strict security controls. As a patient, you can decide who receives your health information and how it’s shared.

You’ll find the legislation to be beneficial if you’re seeking a more active role in your healthcare and wish to obtain any copies of your records. No matter how careful they are, the risk of making mistakes during data recording is imminent. So if you access the documents, you can quickly check the errors and correct the flaws.

Acquiring your health info copies is also vital if you wish to change your healthcare provider. You don’t need to repeat tests–accurate data will be transferred, and your new provider will have your entire treatment history to inform their decisions. Before HIPAA Privacy Rule was introduced, healthcare providers weren’t mandated to release these vital records.

The Bottom Line

HIPAA was legislated to address patient data privacy and security. This has been significantly beneficial in this age where data safety is an increasingly significant consideration. Hopefully, this guideline has enlightened you on how useful the act is to you.