In the United States of America there are many people who are not happy with the current private health insurance system. Despite all the negative feelings and comments towards this system, there are protections under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) that protect health insurance members from unfair practices. This is not available in other countries.
One of the provisions under HIPAA is aimed at the protection of workers and their dependents when their insurance changes due to a different job or job loss. This provision can help you in either case because it determines how long an insurance company can deny coverage for a specific pre-existing condition and what conditions are exempt from exclusion. In other words, what condition an insurance company can say is pre-existing and what conditions it can’t – for example, pregnancy cannot be denied as a pre-existing condition under HIPAA.
Another provision of HIPAA is the length of insurance coverage you can receive after a change in employment. If you were covered by insurance within the last 63 days, and are now being denied insurance, instead of waiting the current 6 – 18 month exclusion period, you can file with HIPAA to receive insurance coverage faster. HIPAA will also help you receive insurance coverage for a family member that needs continuing care of a pre-existing condition without a gap in treatment.
One of the best known provisions of the HIPAA act is to ensure the privacy of your personal health care records. This act restricts the number of persons and details precisely who has access to your records and under what circumstances. It also prevents your records being shared with anyone without your written permission. HIPAA allows the patient to control who has access to their records. Although a parent has access to their minor children’s records, once the child reaches the age of 18, the HIPAA act provides protection of the adult’s records. If the patient wants to authorize the parent to have access, they can do so in writing. The patient also can designate an individual to access their information on their behalf, for example a guardian or relative that takes care of the patient. No one else can access your information unless you give them written permission under HIPAA.
HIPAA also has encouraged the development of electronic databases of your records so physicians could access past records quickly to better treat your condition. The rules are very strict and specific so that a minimal number of people have access to allow the doctors to receive the information they need.