When you work for a rehab center, you know that HIPAA is extremely important to your job.
But what information can you really disclose?
We’ll take a look at the important details of HIPAA and what it means for your treatment center.
HIPAA stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and it became a law in August 1996.
HIPAA is extremely important to rehab facilities for many reasons.
First, many companies, especially healthcare professionals, no longer rely on paper to store records. Instead, they use digital copies. This creates a need for the HIPAA law, in order to protect all of that personal, digital information.
Another reason HIPAA is important is because often times, since most substance abuse is illegal, clients will refuse treatment because of concerns that their information could be shared and that they could land in jail.
But HIPAA makes it clear that a client’s treatment is 100 percent private when checked into a rehab center, unless the client gives permission to disclose their information—which we’ll discuss in title II.
Under all other circumstances, HIPAA declares that the following information is always private:
- How much care a client received
- How a client payed for treatment
- Any medical records
- Personal information
- Client disorders, both physical and mental
In protecting this information, there are 5 different titles under HIPAA.
The first title speaks to health insurance coverage for certain groups of individuals.
Title I ensures that even if an individual loses or changes their job, they will still be covered by health insurance.
Additionally, it states that group health plans cannot deny coverage to individuals that have a disease or a pre-existing condition.
This is especially important to your rehab clients because many may lose or have to quit their jobs in order to attend your center. Title I allows them to still have insurance coverage while they receive treatment.
Title II covers security measures a medical institution must follow in order to store client records.
It helps to prevent health care fraud and abuse by specifying the privacy that is required when handling a client’s healthcare information.
This title states that treatment facilities do not have the right to use or disclose any personal client information including, but not limited to, treatment and payment.
To release any client records, the client must first sign a form that consents the release of their personal information. There is a list of elements that the consent form must include in order to do so:
- The name of the client
- Why they want to disclose this information
- Specification of who is permitted to make the disclosure
- The name of who the information is to be disclosed to
- How much and what information is disclosed
- Signature of the client
- The date for which the form is signed
- A date for which the consent form will expire
- Signature of recognition that consent can be revoked at any time
In the case of minors, they must always sign to consent the release of their information.
In cases where a parent or guardian has to consent for the minor to receive treatment, they will also have to sign the consent form that releases the minor’s information.
Thinking about the ways that data is recorded and stored today, many companies, especially healthcare professionals, no longer rely on paper–rather a digital copy of their notes and patient information.
For this reason, the second title of the HIPAA law is the most referred, since it has to do with the medical privacy and security of patients.
After all, it’s much easier for a hacker to find documents digitally than it is to get ahold of paper copies.
This title has to do with tax-related provisions and providing tax deductions for medical insurance.
Simply put, it standardizes that amount of deductions someone can apply before taxes in their medical savings account.
Title IV provides extended explanations of insurance reform provisions.
It also covers requirements for clients that have pre-existing conditions and clients that are looking for continued health coverage.
Title V discusses company-owned life insurance and how to treat cases of individuals who lose their U.S. citizenship.
If a client has an international insurance plan and is transitioning to an insurance plan in the US, the client will be covered on pre-existing conditions, as long as the plan is HIPAA compliant.
There are hundreds of requirements that are included in Title II — all concerning the security of clients.
Many companies, especially healthcare professionals, no longer rely on paper to store records. Instead, they use digital copies.
For this reason, rehab centers reference Title II most often since it concerns medical privacy.
After all, it’s much easier for a hacker to find documents digitally when you don’t have the right security.