Everything you need to know about HIPAA

When you’re seeking an at-home health test, it’s essential that your health information remains private, unless you are the one choosing to share it.

One way that health information is protected in the United States is through the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Though HIPAA seems complicated, it’s actually in place to help you keep control of your protected health information (PHI).

Read on to learn more about how HIPAA works, and what rights you have under this legislation.

What is HIPAA?

Signed into U.S. law in 1996, HIPAA is divided into five separate titles, and each title deals with a specific aspect of health care coverage. The second HIPAA title is directly related to the sharing of individual health information, health care transactions as well as security and privacy of health data.

Who needs to comply with HIPAA?

A “covered entity” or any person or organization that stores or shares personal health information is required to comply with HIPAA. This includes insurers who provide health plans, health care clearinghouses, and health care providers who electronically transmit health information.

What information is protected under HIPAA?

Protected health information under HIPAA can be a wide range of information including your name, Social Security number or medical record number, specific dates relating to your birth, death, or when you stayed in a hospital, or any information that may be used to identify you. Find a full list of what’s considered protected health information on the HIPAA Journal website.

What rights do I have under HIPAA?

According to federal regulations, here are some of your rights as a patient under HIPAA:

  • The right to receive a notice about privacy policies.
  • The right to access the medical information a covered entity maintains about you.
  • The right to limit the use and disclosure of medical information.
  • The right to request amendments to your medical record.
  • The right to revoke or limit authorization.
  • The right to an accounting of disclosures of protected health information.

What happens if someone violates my HIPAA rights?

Consequences for HIPAA violations vary depending on what information was shared and what harm was caused. Fines can range from a few hundred dollars to up to $250,000 and potential jail time.

How does COVID-19 affect HIPAA regulations?

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Health and Human Services has made certain allowances for health care providers. Here are a few ways that covered entities can share information without patient authorization:

  • They may disclose Patient Health Information (PHI) as necessary to treat you or to treat a different patient.
  • They may disclose your PHI to a public health authority, a foreign government agency that’s working with a public health authority, and people at risk of contracting or spreading a disease or condition if authorized by law.
  • They may share your PHI with your family, friends, relatives, or others who were involved in your care.
  • Health care providers may share your PHI with anyone in order to prevent or lessen a serious and imminent threat to public health and safety.

Your nasal PCR test from empowerDX complies with HIPAA regulations, ensuring you remain in control of your health and the information about it.

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