Clarifying HIPAA

To the Editor:
I would like to clarify a widely held misconception concerning the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, as evidenced by recent letters to the editor

Many mistakenly think it applies to anyone knowing medical information. It does not. HIPAA applies only to “Covered Entities.”

Covered Entities include doctors, clinics, psychologists, dentists, chiropractors, nursing homes, and pharmacies. It also includes health insurance companies, HMOs, company health plans, and governmental programs that pay for health coverage. 

No one else is legally restricted by HIPAA (although there may be some personal, moral implications). 

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services provides the following question to see if one is a Covered Entity: “Does the person, business or agency furnish, bill, or receive payment for healthcare in the normal course of business?”

If the answer is no, HIPAA does not apply.

Saul Abrams

New Scotland

Editor’s note: Saul Abrams is a retired administrative litigation attorney at the New York Public Service Commission.

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