Health Care Privacy
Health care privacy part 3 is one of the most challenging issues in the US health care system. Part of the reason for this is the fact that everyone has a unique healthcare history. Even within the same family, people can have very different healthcare circumstances. People have been waiting for the government to address these issues in a comprehensive manner and finally, there is something that the current government is attempting to do. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act or HIPAA was passed in 1996.
The purpose of the act was to protect the privacy rights of individuals who receive healthcare services. In short, it ensures that the personal information you divulge when seeking healthcare services does not fall into the wrong hands. This is considered to be one of the strongest privacy laws in the country. Unfortunately, it has also been weakened somewhat by the lack of support from congress. There are some flaws in the current law that need to be addressed in order for it to be enforced.
First off, the privacy rule does not apply to financial information. Medical and financial information is not supposed to be shared between patients or health care providers. If you feel that your financial information might be shared, you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. However, this is considered a long and arduous process. For a simple case, you will probably not be able to get any compensation. There is also the issue of doctors abusing their power, writing prescriptions for personal gain, and taking money for services that they did not provide.
Second, most health care plans offer a pre-paid plan to cover the costs of medications. If you do not want to pay for medications, you can opt out of this coverage. You will need written permission from the provider. If you have applied for insurance, it may require a pre-authorization for this, too. You must have had the same type of health care coverage for a certain amount of time before you can opt out. However, you may ask for a refund if you are not enrolled in the plan anymore.
Lastly, it is important to remember that when dealing with health care privacy, both you and your health care provider have rights. The Privacy Rule requires that you be given enough notice before health care information is released. Your rights include not being asked to opt-out from the plan if you do not want to be treated differently because of your health. If information is released and you do not know about it, you should make sure you know what is going on. By law, your doctor must tell you what is going on, even if it means informing you of your current health condition.