The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) was created to ensure the privacy and security of protected health information (PHI). PHI is any information that relates to the past, present, or future physical or mental health of an individual, including demographic information. The HIPAA Privacy Rule establishes national standards for the protection of PHI. People’s health information must be protected because it can reveal a great deal about their lives such as their medical history, current health conditions, and even their genetic makeup. This article lists some of the reasons why health information privacy is important.
Protection against discrimination
One of the most important reasons why health information privacy is so important is that it can have a profound impact on a person’s life. For example, if an employer were to obtain an employee’s PHI, they could use it to discriminate against them. Employers could use this information to deny them a job, promotion, or even health insurance coverage. In some cases, employers have used an employee’s PHI to blackmail them into resigning from their position. If you have any questions about HIPAA, make sure to consult with a healthcare attorney. This way, you can be sure that your rights are being protected, particularly if it is already being used against you in some way.
Prevention of fraud
Another way that a person’s life could be negatively affected by the misuse of their PHI is if it were to fall into the wrong hands. For example, if a person’s medical records were to be stolen, the thief could use the information to commit identity theft or fraud. Identity theft can have a devastating impact on a person’s life, as it can ruin their credit and reputation. In some cases, identity theft can even lead to jail time. Fraud, on the other hand, is a crime that can be committed using someone else’s PHI. For example, a person could use another person’s insurance information to receive medical treatment or prescriptions. In the past, thieves have used stolen medical records to obtain prescription drugs even though they did not have a legitimate need for them.
Ensuring quality of care
Another reason why health information privacy is so important is that it can impact the quality of care a person receives. For example, if a doctor were to share a patient’s PHI with another doctor without the patient’s consent, hoping to get a second opinion, the patient may not receive the quality of care they deserve. This is because the second doctor may not have all of the information they need to make an informed decision about the patient’s care. After all, he or she only sees a portion of the patient’s PHI. To ensure that a patient receives the best possible care, their PHI must be only shared with those who need to see it.
Maintaining social relationships
A person’s social life could also be affected by the misuse of their PHI. For example, if a person’s PHI was to be released without their consent, it could damage their relationships with friends, family, and co-workers. In some cases, the released information could even lead to harassment or stalking. This can be attributed to the fact that people only often share personal information with their friends and family that they would not want to be made public.
A person’s right to privacy is one of the most important reasons why health information privacy is so important. A person’s medical history is private and when a person’s PHI is mishandled, it can have a lasting impact on their life. Hence, this information should not be shared with anyone without the individual’s consent. In some cases, people have been denied jobs or promotions because of information that was revealed in their medical records. This is why it is so important to make sure that your PHI is protected.
Repercussions for not keeping PHI confidential
There are severe repercussions for entities that do not keep PHI confidential. The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights can impose civil monetary penalties on covered entities that violate HIPAA rules. These penalties can be as high as $50,000 per violation, with a maximum of $25 million per year for all violations of an identical provision. In addition, covered entities can be subject to criminal penalties, including fines and imprisonment.
HIPAA compliance can be difficult to maintain, but it is vital to the protection of your patient’s PHI. There are many reasons why health information privacy is so important. The misuse of PHI can have a profound impact on a person’s life, both personally and professionally. If you have any questions about your rights under HIPAA, make sure to consult with a healthcare attorney. This way, you can be sure that you are taking the necessary steps to protect your patients’ PHI.