On January 17, 2013, the Department of Health and Human Services released the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act modifications to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) privacy and security regulations. The HITECH Act will go into effect on March 26, 2013, and the compliance deadline for HIPAA-covered entities is September 23, 2013. Dentists must be aware of these modifications, as they will have great implications for the handling of patient health records.
The new rule, which is 563 pages long, is meant to strengthen the privacy and security of patient health information as health records are becoming digitalized. Under HITECH, business associates of HIPAA-covered entities are now directly liable for compliance with HIPAA and there are now more limitations on the use and disclosure of protected health information for marketing purposes. In addition, privacy protections for genetic information have been increased so that most health plans may not use this information for underwriting insurance policies.
The HITECH Act allows patients the ability to restrict insurance companies from accessing portions of their medical records if they paid for the specific treatment out of their own pocket. The rule also provides patients new rights to access their health records and prohibits the sale of protected health information without individual authorization. Dentists and staff members must become familiar with the new modifications, as they will be required to comply by September 23, 2013.
Stuart J. Oberman, Esq.
Stuart J. Oberman is the founder and President of Oberman Law Firm. Mr. Oberman graduated from Urbana University and received his law degree from John Marshall Law School. Mr. Oberman has been practicing law for over 30 years, and before going into private practice, Mr. Oberman was in-house counsel for a Fortune 500 Company.
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