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 protecting their private health information. And while you should do everything in your power to make sure that your personal 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.”
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. Only individuals such as doctors, nurses, therapists, social workers, and administrators should have access to your protected health information to determine whether you qualify for benefits, need a certain type of treatment, and other necessary measures. There are, however, some reasons for which your private health information could be shared without your consent, such as 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. By taking a little time to educate yourself about HIPPA, you will be better able to understand what is considered protected health information and keep your private information private.