Protecting Your Health Information

What you need to know about the Health Insurance Portability Act (HIPPA)

Identity theft. Credit card fraud. Computer viruses. Concern for the privacy and security of personal information has never been greater. Our concern for the safety and security of your personal healthcare information has never been taken more seriously.

While we have always gone to great lengths to ensure the privacy of your personal health information, we are getting additional help from the Federal Government in the form of new regulations. These regulations help standardize privacy and security requirements across the country and across all different types of healthcare organizations.

The regulations are part of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act or HIPAA, for short. HIPAA does three primary things:

*It helps standardize and simplify the way healthcare organizations exchange electronic health care data.

*It provides consumers with additional protections for getting and maintaining health insurance coverage, although it does not guarantee coverage.

*It creates new security rules to ensure the safety and privacy of individual health information and medical records.

Currently, individual state laws govern use and disclosure of this information, creating many inconsistencies and gaps in the way your health information is protected. HIPAA sets minimum security and privacy standards for healthcare organizations to follow. If a state has more stringent privacy laws, then these would be followed instead. In addition, HIPAA sets heavy penalties for violations of these standards and the misuse of personal health information.

Defining Individual Health Information

Every time you go to see a doctor, are admitted to the hospital, fill a prescription or send a claim to an insurance company, a record is made of your confidential health information. This type of information is referred to as individually identifiable health information and is the type of information regulated by HIPAA. It can be in any format- electronic, paper or oral.

Healthcare organizations that collect and manage this type of information and are therefore covered by these regulations including physicians, physical therapists, mental health professionals, dentists, chiropractors, optometrist, podiatrists and others; hospitals; health plans; employers; healthcare clearinghouses such as claims processors; and other healthcare organizations who conduct administrative and financial transactions.

Added Control Over Health Information

Under HIPAA, you have rights to understand and control how your health information is used.

*Right to Education- Healthcare providers and health plans are required to provide you with a clear written explanation of how they intend to use and disclose your information.

*Right to access Medical Records- You have the right to see and get copies of your medical records, request changes and receive a history of non-routine disclosures of your personal health information.

Want to learn more?

For a copy of our practice privacy protections, please ask the receptionist at the front desk.

For any additional information, contact our Privacy Officer, Kathy Tisko: kathy.tisko@dallaswellnesscare.com