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The trust that you place in your health care provider is critical to receiving high-quality care. However, with the emergence of electronic databases, you may be concerned that your information could be accessed by those other than your health care provider. Fortunately, the federal government developed standards for patient privacy as part of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).
It’s important to be familiar with the following five basic principles that govern the HIPAA privacy rules:
- Patients control the release of their medical information.
- Health information can be used for health purposes only.
- There are federal penalties for people and organizations that violate privacy regulations, ranging from a $100 fine to 10 years in prison.
- HIPAA provides standards for how medical information should be released for public health, research, fraud and abuse investigations, and quality assessment purposes.
- Health care organizations establish procedures to protect privacy.
If you have privacy questions, contact your health plan’s member services department, your physician, or your clinic administrator.