September 23. 2012
How HIPAA Violations Affect The Medical Billing Process
HIV and AIDS are two very serious diseases which first came known and reported in the U.S. in 1981. Today it is estimated that 1.7 million people in the U.S. have been infected with HIV since that date 619,000 people have already died from it. The CDC, (Center For Disease Control) estimates that every one in five people living with HIV, are unaware that they even have it. With a serious medical condition such as this, it is good that the HIPAA privacy act exists because the privacy of every patient’s medical information, including any information about AIDS and HIV, will be protected and is to remain confidential. AIDS is caused by a retrovirus known as HIV, which infects and kills the T-cells of the body’s immune system. HIV destroys CD4 cells, which is a type of white blood cells that helps the body fight diseases. The more CD4 cells that die, the weaker your immune system will be. As the CD4 cells are destroyed by HIV, the body will begin to develop other infections that would not normally affect it therefore making those who suffer from AIDS unable to fight off infections. In order to become infected with HIV, vaginal secretions, semen, or infected blood must enter your body. A person can’t catch HIV from ordinary contact such as hugging, kissing, or even shaking hands. HIV can also not be transmitted through, water, air, or even a mosquito bite. Knowing exactly what HIPAA, (Health Insurance Probability and Accountability Act), is and understanding how the implications from the prospective of the HIPAA confidentiality. In 1996 HIPAA was enacted by Congress as a way to protect the patient’s health information from being inappropriately used. The restrictions made by HIPAA have changed how medical records are handled and who can access the patient’s information. There are four parts to HIPAA, the first part is the process that takes place when any health information is reported. The second and third part are for the privacy and security of the protected health information. The fourth part is portability with reserving an individual’s ability to have health insurance if they have a preexisting or current medical condition. Because of HIPAA, there are now rules that ensure the rights of the patient are preserved and confidential for every person, which includes those people who have AIDS and HIV. The laws of HIPAA have limited the use of preexisting conditions. Health plans cannot discriminate anyone with a denial of coverage because of a member of the family having poor health. Because of HIPAA, individuals and small employers that lose their insurance from their job are guaranteed the right to purchase individual health insurance. Any information pertaining to or about HIV and AIDS is kept confidential. When we talk about confidential information we are referring to any type of information that could be damaging and highly sensitive, which is why HIPAA has these laws so that such information is protected. Information is also kept private which is a little different from confidential because private information is information that the individual does not want anyone else to know about. Although, private information is not always protected, and the status can change, depending on the situation. Any person that has been tested for AIDS or HIV whether it was HIV-negative or HIV-positive, that person’s information is protected under HIPAA confidentiality laws. No matter where a patient may go there information is always protected by HIPAA. An example of how HIPAA works is simple, say an employee of a doctors office found out information about a person they know, and they leave work and go to tell their spouse or friend about it, the employer is responsible. Keeping information about HIV and AIDS confidential is extremely important, and it is very sensitive information. There are also...