Shooting from the HIPAA: Who can access your medical information?

Heard of HIPAA? It stands for “Health Information Portability and Accountability Act,” and represents a set of regulations set forth by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services designed to help keep your medical records private.

And while the HIPAA rules are lengthy and complicated, the bottom line of HIPAA is that when it comes to your medical information, there are strict rules about not only what information can be shared, but also how and why that information is shared.

HIPAA rules state that your health information and medical records can only be used for health purposes. So, when you give consent your information can be properly shared with doctors, specialists, your health insurer and other related services within your plan, such as disease management services. HIPAA also states your information may be shared between the providers in your health plan, based on disease code.

On the other hand, your health information cannot be used by prospective employers to make hiring decisions, or by banks to make credit decisions, without your consent.

Bottom line: Having to go through that stack of HIPAA forms when you visit your doctor helps to keep your private health information private.

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