What is HIPAA and is it important?

HIPAA refers to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.   Part of HIPAA is known as The Privacy Rule.  Most of us believe that our medical and other health information is private and should be protected, and we want to know who has this information. The Privacy Rule, a Federal law, gives you rights over your personal health information (PHI) and sets rules and limits on who can look at and receive your PHI.

 HIPAA imposes financial penalties upon healthcare providers regarding unauthorized disclosure of PHI.  Even family members may have difficulty receiving information about a loved one in an emergency or urgent situation without a HIPAA authorization allowing disclosure.  For this reason it is important to have a HIPAA authorization in your Health Care Power of Attorney (HCPOA) or have a separate Standalone HIPAA Authorization.  In the authorization, you authorize your Agent under your HCPOA to receive information to make your healthcare decisions when you cannot, and you can authorize others to receive information as well.

 A HIPAA authorization is important because it informs your healthcare providers of specific individuals you have authorized to receive health information about you.


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