Please, before you cite HIPA as prohibiting something, please actually read the law

I am always amazed when people cite laws that they have never read, or even read any scholarly articles about.  HIPA is one of these. 2,000 pages of gobbledy gook, and all it says is that insurance companies can share information.  Interpreted at its best, that means that the insurance companies can spot fraud easier (I’m not talking fraud by patients, but fraud by doctors and 3rd party service providers). Got that.  But what it was really intended for was to deny people coverage or claims (pre-existing condition), despite the fact that a denial of health care for pre-existing condition is illegal in most states now, the insurance companies do it.  I hear complaints and my husband and I even applied for insurance and they denied him based upon his sleep machine (CPAP), etc.  Nothing major, but here we have a top 10 insurance company denying coverage or making it astronomical under “preexisting condition” which was outlawed in Illinois years ago.

Please take a look at the below and understand HIPA does NOT protect patient privacy with respect to 3rd parties, only insurance companies.  And it’s a DISCLOSURE law, not a patient secrecy law or patient’s rights law.

Accordingly, no one can sue under HIPA for medical information disclosure.  At least not in Illinois, far as I can find on Fastcase.

The Illinois Supreme Court has recognized the tort of “intrusion upon seclusion” which requires 1) an unauthorized disclosure of private information 2) in a manner which would be considered outrageous.  This means the neighbor breaking into your home and rifling through your private papers, or someone hacking your computer (tho this may be covered under cyber hacking laws, federal and state).

Read on and rest assured that under HIPA all your insurance companies, past, present and future, now know all about you. Are they covered under HIPA?  Yes.  Can they disclose except to other insurance companies.  NO.  Can you sue them if they do disclose under HIPA?  NO.  In 2,000 pages of gobbledy gook, there is no remedy for violation of the statute, so that means if you are wronged or harmed (lose your job, your reputation, your clients) because someone discloses something like you have a lot of abortions, have an STD, whatever, you can’t sue unless another law provides a remedy.

Hipaa’s Use as Code of Silence Often Misinterprets the Law


Credit Shannon May

How do people use, misuse or abuse Hipaa, the federal regulations protecting patients’ confidential health information? Let us count the ways:
■ Last month, in a continuing care retirement community in Ithaca, N.Y., Helen Wyvill, 72, noticed that a friend hadn’t shown up for their regular swim. She wasn’t in her apartment, either.
Had she gone to a hospital? Could friends visit or call? Was anyone taking care of the dog?
Questions to the staff brought a familiar nonresponse: Nobody could provide any information because of Hipaa.
“The administration says they have to abide by the law, blah, blah,” Ms. Wyvill said. “They won’t even tell you if somebody has died.”
■ Years ago, Patricia Gross, then 56, and a close friend had taken refuge in a cafe at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, where Ms. Gross’s husband was dying of cancer. She was lamenting his inadequately treated pain and her own distress when a woman seated at a nearby table walked over.
“She told me how very improper it was to be discussing the details of a patient’s treatment in public and that it was a Hipaa violation,” Ms. Gross recalled.
■ In 2012, Ericka Gray repeatedly phoned the emergency room at York Hospital in York, Pa., where her 85-year-old mother had gone after days of back pain, to alert the staff to her medical history. “They refused to take the information, citing Hipaa,” said Ms. Gray, who was in Chicago on a business trip.
“I’m not trying to get any information. I’m trying to give you information,” Ms. Gray told them, adding that because her mother’s memory was impaired, she couldn’t supply the crucial facts, like medication allergies.
By the time Ms. Gray found a nurse willing to listen, hours later, her mother had already been prescribed a drug she was allergic to. Fortunately, the staff hadn’t administered it yet.
Each scenario, attorneys say, involves a misinterpretation of the privacy rules created under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. “It’s become an all-purpose excuse for things people don’t want to talk about,” said Carol Levine, director of the United Hospital Fund’s Families and Health Care Project, which has published a Hipaa guide for family caregivers.

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