With so much information available via the Internet and with new hospitals and clinics popping up everywhere, it can make some people a little concerned about guarding their protected health information. And while you should do everything in your power to make sure that your protected health information is safe, many people are unsure about what information is private or is protected by law. Many people wonder what is considered protected health information and what measures the government has taken to make sure that their private health information is safe.
So what is considered protected health information? According to ConsumerAllianceUSA.org protected health information “means individually identifiable health information collected electronically, orally, or via paper. Protected health information includes information such as the patient’s name, social security number, telephone number, medical record number, address, including ZIP code as well as medical records.” But what does this mean for you? This means that your doctor, nurse, caseworker or anyone else can only share your private health information under certain circumstances. Some reasons for which your private health information could be shared without your consent are for treatment, for payment, for public health activities, for law enforcement purposes, for government programs, for national security, for public health and safety, for research, and for coroners.
To protect your private health information, the United States government created the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, also known as HIPAA. In short, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPPA, makes it unlawful for any certain parties to disclose your protected health information and effectively limits the distribution of this type of information.