The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Stimulus Package) created changes to HIPAA Privacy and Security rules. Congress passed the act on February 17, 2009. The legislation created new tools for the aggressive enforcement of the HIPAA Privacy and Security rules. A violation of the HIPPA Privacy and Security rules could result in additional enforcement (in the form of penalties) against those who do not adhere to the law. You must be aware of how a professional administrator, doctor, employee or any other professional may violate your rights by speaking or displaying your protected health information (PHI) that others may hear or see.
This is your Protected Health Information (PHI)
Electronic mail addresses (email)
social security numbers
Medical record numbers, including a prescription number
Health plan beneficiary numbers (Member IDs)
Examples of wrongful disclosure of PHI include:
Placing PHI in the subject line of an e-mail
Failing to encrypt an e-mail containing PHI that is sent outside of the professional’s office
Asking you to leave PHI information in a common area
Asking you to yell out your PHI information in a physician’s waiting room
Keep an ear open in your doctor’s office, at a lab, hospital or radiology center. Mention the violation to those individuals that do violate your rights and if you want to take it a step further, report them to the authorities and fines may be enacted against them. http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/hipaa/understanding/index.html
A medical bill from a physician or a hospital admission looks different from a credit card or any other bill you may receive. The information contained on the physician and hospital bills is universal among similar type providers. The key fields tell you about your visit and what has happened since: Sender: A number of physicians and hospitals employ an outside medical billing company to bill and collect for the services they provide to patients; Statement date and payment due dates; Patient: This is sometimes different from who the statement is addressed to; Description of Services: The listed procedures and services the patient received on date of service; Explanation: Explains the reason the claim was not paid or was paid; and, The Amount Due: This is the difference between the charged amount, non-allowed amount negotiated by the health insurance carrier to pay for these services, amount paid by the insurance carrier and payments made by you. If you go to a participating provider the amount due from you should not include the non-allowed amount.
Conditions do not manifest themselves in our bodies overnight, it takes time. By going to the doctor and getting an annual physical, your doctor and yourself can reestablish you relationship by discussing any changes that may be occurring in your live that may or may not be contributing to any symptoms you may be experiencing. Your doctor can then look over your family history and evaluate whether it is something serious or not or whether at a certain age you need to start becoming more aware of certain physical conditions that may start effecting you and adjust your diet, exercise, or even levels of stress at that point in your life.
Check your car insurance policy—there is often a medical component. If you are ever in a car accident and need medical help, often times your car insurance will supplement what your regular insurance does not. If you do not have health insurance, the car insurance may cover a portion of your medical fees related to the car accident.
The IRS allows you to deduct medical bills that exceed 7.5% of your gross income. That's a high bar, but the list of eligible expenses is extensive, including insurance premiums, dental X-rays, fertility treatments, prescribed weight-loss and stop-smoking programs and even LASIK eye surgery. See irs.gov/publications/p502 for the details.
According to the Merck Manual of Medical Information, about half of all patients don't follow instructions about taking medicine, which results in 10% of hospital visits a year. These incidents could have been avoided by listening to your doctor and following instructions. If you find that you do not like you doctor, or worse, do not trust your doctor, start searching for a new one immediately. Many medical mistakes can be avoided if there was more effective communication between a doctor and his/her patient.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|