The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act protects Americans with health-related conditions from exclusions, limitations and discrimination in group health coverage. It also imposes confidentiality rules on medical professionals regarding patients' records. Indeed, cyber thieves see data as a commodity, and patients' digital medical records are 50 times more valuable than financial information, according to security experts. Civil penalties for breaking HIPAA rules range from $100 for an unknowing violation to $1.5 million for willful neglect.
In 2020, the HIPAA Right of Access Initiative was launched. Its purpose was to enforce a patient's right to get access to their medical records promptly and in a readily producible format of their choice, without being overcharged.
One of the most crucial parts of HIPAA is that it redefines the phrase "preexisting conditions." A patient is considered to have a preexisting condition if they have received medical advice, a diagnosis, care or treatment in the six months prior to enrolling in their current health plan. Insurers may then refuse to cover a patient for that condition. However, HIPAA places a six-month lookback limit on identifying preexisting conditions. In other words, if you've had a condition for longer than six months, the condition is not considered preexisting and you cannot be excluded from coverage on that basis.
More broadly, HIPAA limits the ways companies can exclude coverage:
HIPAA offers several other protections. For example, patients may not face discrimination based on health and may not be excluded from coverage or charged more for coverage because of their health status.
This is just a summary of a complicated series of rules and regulations. There are many additional provisions and exceptions. If you are facing health discrimination issues or are concerned about a possible privacy violation and not getting a satisfactory response, be sure to consult qualified legal advice.
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