How has HIPAA made an impact on life (for example, in obtaining a prescription, obtaining medical information regarding a family member, etc.)?
HIPAA's impact on life:
The 1996 law called the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act is commonly known as HIPAA, and I do not claim to be an expert in the field. In the last few months, however, I have had plenty of real-world experience with this law and feel I can offer something useful to the discussion about how this law has impacted my family.
After my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in the spring, we suddenly became frequent visitors to the world of current medicine. While nothing about the laws have made a huge impact on the level of care my mother is given, there are several things which have been a inconvenient, annoying, and frustrating.
My father drops my mom off for her chemo treatments and stays with her until he has to leave; I come to stay with her and take her home as soon as I'm able. I am not allowed to go back to her--even though they all know me by name--unless they go ask her if she is willing to let me be there. In fact, they cannot confirm to me that she is even there until they check with her first. As I said, this does not change her care, but it is an inconvenience which has, several times, meant waking my mother up while she is being treated.
When I have to get her prescriptions filled, she must be present and show her photo ID. Though I can drop off any prescription for her, I cannot pick it up unless she is with me and shows her photo ID and insurance card. On her "good" days this is not a problem; on her worst days, this is a serious issue for us since she should not be out and certainly does not feel up to going to the pharmacy.
When the medical center, doctor, or hospital call her house to give her some information. she is the only one they can talk to. If she is too weak to talk or whatever, the information has to wait. She has done what she can to assure these offices that they can talk to me if she is not available; sometimes it works and sometimes it does not.
While these kinds of incidents have certainly been inconveniences and have caused several annoying and potentially dangerous delays, the law does serve a purpose. It was intended to protect patients from being compromised by health information being made available where it should not be. It was designed to
establish a national framework for security standards and protection of confidentiality with regard to health care data and information.
There is certainly a need for such protection, especially in today's world and with the potential hazards and consequences of confidentiality breaches. For those who are not frequent users of the health care system, the law probably does not have much impact; however, this law has definitely made our ordeal more trying, complicated, and time-consuming.