In my last blog, I talked about the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) that gives you rights over your health information. With a few exceptions, you have the right to inspect, review and get a copy of your medical records and billing records.
Of course, you have the right to look at your own medical information. Yet, who else is allowed to look at your medical history? Generally, no one is allowed to look at your health information without your permission. However, there are some exceptions where, by law, your medical information may be used and shared for specific reasons. For example, your health information may be used for reporting as required by state or federal law. There are federal and state laws that require reporting when the flu is in your area for instance. In many cases, you may be entitled to know who has looked at your health information.
Fortunately, these exceptions are limited. Generally, your health information cannot be seen or used without your permission. Your doctor may not give your health information to marketing and advertising agencies without your prior written permission for example. In addition, family members cannot obtain information about their relative without the patient’s consent. Similarly, under the New York State Mental Hygiene Law, a patient’s consent is generally needed before disclosures to family members can be made.
However, it should be noted that HIPPA does not prevent your employer from requesting information about your health if your employer needs the information to administer workers’ compensation, health insurance or sick leave. Nonetheless, your health provider may not give your employer your health information directly without your permission. If you believe your HIPPA rights are being violated, you should contact an attorney to protect your rights.