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The HIPAA Privacy Rule gives individuals a fundamental new right to be informed of the privacy practices of their health plans and of most of their health care providers, as well as to be informed of their privacy rights with respect to their personal health information. Health plans and covered health care providers are required to develop and distribute a notice that provides a clear explanation of these rights and practices. The notice is intended to focus individuals on privacy issues and concerns, and to prompt them to have discussions with their health plans and health care providers and exercise their rights.
How the Rule Works
General Rule. The Privacy Rule provides that an individual has a right to adequate notice of how a covered entity may use and disclose protected health information about the individual, as well as his or her rights and the covered entity’s obligations with respect to that information. Most covered entities must develop and provide individuals with this notice of their privacy practices.
The Privacy Rule does not require the following covered entities to develop a notice:
Health care clearinghouses, if the only protected health information they create or receive is as a business associate of another covered entity. See 45 CFR 164.500(b)(1).
A correctional institution that is a covered entity (e.g., that has a covered health care provider component).
A group health plan that provides benefits only through one or more contracts of insurance with health insurance issuers or HMOs, and that does not create or receive protected health information other than summary health information or enrollment or disenrollment information.
See 45 CFR 164.520(a).
Content of the Notice. Covered entities are required to provide a notice in plain language that describes:
How the covered entity may use and disclose protected health information about an individual.
The individual’s rights with respect to the information and how the individual may exercise these rights, including how the individual may complain to the covered entity.
The covered entity’s legal duties with respect to the information, including a statement that the covered entity is required by law to maintain the privacy of protected health information.
Whom individuals can contact for further information about the covered entity’s privacy policies.
The notice must include an effective date. See 45 CFR 164.520(b) for the specific requirements for developing the content of the notice.
A covered entity is required to promptly revise and distribute its notice whenever it makes material changes to any of its privacy practices. See 45 CFR 164.520(b)(3), 164.520(c)(1)(i)(C) for health plans, and 164.520(c)(2)(iv) for covered health care providers with direct treatment relationships with individuals.
Providing the Notice.
A covered entity must make its notice available to any person who asks for it.
A covered entity must prominently post and make available its notice on any web site it maintains that provides information about its customer services or benefits.
Health Plans must also:
Provide the notice to individuals then covered by the plan no later than April 14, 2003 (April 14, 2004, for small health plans) and to new enrollees at the time of enrollment.
Provide a revised notice to individuals then covered by the plan within 60 days of a material revision.
Notify individuals then covered by the plan of the availability of and how to obtain the notice at least once every three years.
Covered Direct Treatment Providers must also:
Provide the notice to the individual no later than the date of first service delivery (after the April 14, 2003 compliance date of the Privacy Rule) and, except in an emergency treatment situation, make a good faith effort to obtain the individual’s written acknowledgment of receipt of the notice. If an acknowledgment cannot be obtained, the provider must document his or her efforts to obtain the acknowledgment and the reason why it was not obtained.
When first service delivery to an individual is provided over the Internet, through e-mail, or otherwise electronically, the provider must send an electronic notice automatically and contemporaneously in response to the individual’s first request for service. The provider must make a good faith effort to obtain a return receipt or other transmission from the individual in response to receiving the notice.
In an emergency treatment situation, provide the notice as soon as it is reasonably practicable to do so after the emergency situation has ended. In these situations, providers are not required to make a good faith effort to obtain a written acknowledgment from individuals.
Make the latest notice (i.e., the one that reflects any changes in privacy policies) available at the provider’s office or facility for individuals to request to take with them, and post it in a clear and prominent location at the facility.
A covered entity may e-mail the notice to an individual if the individual agrees to receive an electronic notice.
See 45 CFR 164.520(c) for the specific requirements for providing the notice.
Any covered entity, including a hybrid entity or an affiliated covered entity, may choose to develop more than one notice, such as when an entity performs different types of covered functions (i.e., the functions that make it a health plan, a health care provider, or a health care clearinghouse) and there are variations in its privacy practices among these covered functions. Covered entities are encouraged to provide individuals with the most specific notice possible.
Covered entities that participate in an organized health care arrangement may choose to produce a single, joint notice if certain requirements are met. For example, the joint notice must describe the covered entities and the service delivery sites to which it applies. If any one of the participating covered entities provides the joint notice to an individual, the notice distribution requirement with respect to that individual is met for all of the covered entities. See 45 CFR 164.520(d).
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) provides safeguards to protect your privacy. Implementation of HIPAA requirements officially began on April 14, 2003. Many of the policies have been our practice for years. This form is a “friendly” version. A more complete text is posted in the office.What this is all about: Specifically, there are rules and restrictions on who may see or be notified of your Protected Health Information (PHI). These restrictions do not include the normal interchange of information necessary to provide you with office services. HIPAA provides certain rights and protections to you as the patient. We balance these needs with our goal of providing you with quality professional service and care. Additional information is available from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. www.hhs.gov We have adopted the following policies:
Patient information will be kept confidential except as is necessary to provide services or to ensure that all administrative matters related to your care are handled appropriately. This specifically includes the sharing of information with other healthcare providers, laboratories, health insurance payers as is necessary and appropriate for your care. Patient files may be stored in open file racks and will not contain any coding which identifies a patient’s condition or information which is not already a matter of public record. The normal course of providing care means that such records may be left, at least temporarily, in administrative areas such as the front office, examination room, etc. Those records will not be available to persons other than office staff. You agree to the normal procedures utilized within the office for the handling of charts, patient records, PHI and other documents or information.
It is the policy of this office to remind patients of their appointments. We may do this by telephone, e-mail, U.S mail, or by any means convenient for the practice and/or as requested by you. We may send you other communications informing you of changes to office policy and new technology that you might find valuable or informative.
The practice utilizes a number of vendors in the conduct of business. These vendors may have access to PHI but must agree to abide by the confidentiality rules of HIPAA.
You understand and agree to inspections of the office and review of documents which may include PHI by government agencies or insurance payers in normal performance of their duties.
You agree to bring any concerns or complaints regarding privacy to the attention of the office manger or the doctor.
Your confidential information will not be used for the purposes of marketing or advertising of products, goods or services.
We agree to provide patients with access to their records in accordance with state and federal laws.
We may change, add, delete or modify any of these provisions to better serve the needs of the both the practice and the patient.
You have the right to request restrictions in the use of your protected health information and to request change in certain policies used within the office concerning your PHI. However, we are not obligated to alter internal policies to conform to your request.
I, First Name Last Name, do hereby consent and acknowledge my agreement to the terms set forth in the HIPAA INFORMATION FORM and any subsequent changes in office policy. I understand that this consent shall remain in force from this time forward
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