Privacy Is Available—but at a Price

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For patients who do not want all their medical data on the internet in these days of frequent cybercrime, Philip Eskew, D.O., J.D., M.B.A. offers some suggestions in the summer issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons.

Under the HITECH Act (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act) of 2009, patients have an opportunity to limit sharing of protected health information that would normally occur automatically between a HIPAA-covered facility and a health plan, Dr. Eskew explains—if the information pertains solely to an item or service for which the patient has paid in full out of pocket, and if the disclosure is not required by law.  

According to the HITECH regulations, if a Medicare patient sees a physician who is not opted out of Medicare, the patient can invoke an exception to Medicare rules that would otherwise prevent the patient from paying out of pocket and require disclosure of patient data through mandatory claims filing. However, state laws regarding Medicaid and HMOs may trump the HITECH protections as instances where “the disclosure is otherwise required by law.”

HITECH can also be used to fight against inflated charges, Dr. Eskew notes.

The law is complex. Dr. Eskew provides some Frequently Asked Questions for the guidance of patients and physicians and a model HITECH request statement.

Read full article: https://jpands.org/vol24no2/eskew.pdf

The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons is published by the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), a national organization representing physicians in all specialties since 1943.