Monday, April 9, 2012

10 Tips for Safeguarding Your Personal Information Under the HIPAA

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 was created to protect the medical interests of the citizens of United States. The act protects the medical insurance, personal information and medical information of the consumers. It empowers the consumers by giving them the right to access their own medical records, update their personal details and in case of suspected theft of data or misuses; they may also lodge a complaint with the authorities. Data theft under the HIPAA is a serious offense. Read below to find out how you can reduce the risk of personal and medical data theft.

• Keep yourself educated. Reading and knowing all that you can learn about the HIPAA is the key to preventing theft of information. Read all the notices and circulations and updates that are provided.

• Discuss with your provider. Talk to your insurance provider regarding your concerns about confidentiality and privacy. Understand how your insurance provider handles privacy issues.

• Be a good consumer. As a consumer, you must try and get the best insurance deal with a assured privacy deal for yourself and your family. But as a consumer, it is also important to be responsible. Pay your bills on time and be a good and a safe consumer.

• Read notices with care. Authorizations, notifications and circulars will be periodically sent to you. Read all of them thoroughly and sign on authorizations only if you are convinced that they will benefit you. Make sure the authorization you are about to sign does not put your personal information in jeopardy.

• You have the right to amend or make copies of your medical data. HIPAA allows you to access your medical and personal records at your will. You are also allowed to make copies for your own records. You can also amend your data and make corrections if some data is incorrect. Exercise this right you have.

• Update your personal medical record. Maintain a personal record of your health. Include all documents and papers related to you health like copies of your health checkups, doctor's records, diet records and exercise records.

• Communicate the way you feel more secure and comfortable. The covered entities can communicate through different channels, emails, telephone or post. Pick the way you feel most comfortable and secure.

• Go to the authorities if you suspect foul play. If you feel that your privacy rights have been violated or your data may have been misused, go to the authorities. HIPAA has provisions through which you can register your complaint.

• Contribute to strengthening the laws if you can. The Legislature always welcomes your suggestions to make the act a stronger one. Contact your representatives if you have suggestions.

• When you complain, it benefits everyone. When you lodge a formal complaint with the authorities, you are educating everyone, your fellow citizens, your lawmakers and the bureaucracy that you have been violated. It will only help in making the law stronger and more beneficial.

HIPAA helps you safeguard your health interests with some effort from your end. Be a good consumer and an alert citizen to enjoy the benefits.

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