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Chapter 14. Being Patient > Privacy and Medical Records

Privacy and Medical Records

In these days of greater concern over the privacy of our personal information, it is fairly common for people to regularly monitor their credit reports. But how many of us ever bother to check our medical record to make sure that the information contained within it is accurate? The information contained in your medical record can affect whether you get long-term care insurance or other kinds of insurance.

In 2003 regulations were enacted as a part of the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, known by the acronym HIPAA, that clarify our rights to our medical records. HIPAA was intended to strike a balance between our privacy rights with the needs of the health care industry for access to patients’ records. Many states already had medical privacy laws in place. These laws were not supplanted by HIPPA, and in fact, if they provide more personal privacy protection, the state law will supercede. You probably have already received a HIPPA-required notice of your rights from your physicians and health insurer. If you are like many of us, you did not even bother to read the fine-print-intensive notice, just like the financial information sharing privacy notices we receive annually, pursuant to the federal Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, telling us of our right to opt out of some of the privacy-invading, financial-information-sharing programs of the various banks, credit card companies and insurance companies with which we do regular business.


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