You go to your doctor’s office and are handed a form that says something about your privacy rights. You’ve seen forms like these so many times now that you probably don’t even pay attention to them. You may even figure that a doctor’s office is going to be careful with your information just as it should, and the rest of it is just a bunch of extra information you don’t need.
Sound familiar at all? But while many of these notices go straight to your trash can, they are actually your gateway to understanding many of your rights as a patient.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 provides a great deal of important protections and insurability guarantees for individuals. The privacy rights that are granted by this federal law, however, may be easily ignored or misunderstood by health insurance consumers.
The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services provides some excellent, easy-to-understand information on what your rights actually are – and what you should do if you feel those rights have been violated.