You have privacy rights under a federal law (HIPAA) that protects your health information. These rights are important for you to know. You can exercise these rights, ask questions about them, and file a complaint if you think your rights are being denied or your health information isn't being protected.
Who Must Follow This Law?
- Most doctors, nurses, pharmacies, hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and many other health care providers.
- Health insurance companies, HMOs, most employer group health plans.
- Certain government programs that pay for health care, such as Medicare and Medicaid.
Providers and health insurers who are required to follow this law must comply with your right to:
1. Ask to see and get a copy of your health records.
You can ask to see and get a copy of your medical record and other health information. You may not be able to get all of your information in a few special cases. For example, if your doctor decides something in your file might endanger you or someone else, the doctor may not have to give this information to you.
- In most cases, your copies must be given to you within 30 days, but this can be extended for another 30 days if you are given a reason.
- You may have to pay for the cost of copying and mailing if you request copies and mailing.
2. Have corrections added to your health information.
You can ask to change any wrong information in your file or add information to your file if it is incomplete. For example, if you and your hospital agree that your file has the wrong result for a test, the hospital must change it. Even if the hospital believes the test result is correct, you still have the right to have your disagreement noted in your file.
- In most cases the file should be changed within 60 days, but the hospital can take an extra 30 days if you are given a reason.
3. Receive a notice that tells you how your health information is
used and shared.
You can learn how your health information is used and shared by your provider or health insurer. They must give you a notice that tells you how they may use and share your health information and how you can exercise your rights. In most cases, you should get this notice on your first visit to a provider or in the mail from your health insurer, and you can ask for a copy at any time.
4. Decide whether to give your permission before your information
can be used or shared for certain purposes.
In general, your health information cannot be given to your employer, used or shared for things like sales calls or advertising, or used or shared for many other purposes unless you give your permission by signing an authorization form. This authorization form must tell you who will get your information and what your information will be used for.