Chances are pretty good that if you are reading this you have an idea of what HIPPA is all about. I doubt that few of you could quote the regs on it, but for the most part the concept is this. Employers, Insurers, TPAs, Medical Providers; anyone with knowledge of a protected health information (PHI) is not supposed to discuss it with anyone else, without that person’s permission. That’s my short take on it.
In my mind, I understand what the legislative intent of the law. As a society, we didn’t want employees to be denied a job or benefits bases
on knowledge of a medical condition. We did not want insurer to be able to deny coverage to someone or a group, based upon what they might know about their medical history. I get that and I agree with idea. But one of the realities of HIPPA is that most medical providers have taken this concept of individual privacy to an asinine level.
With in the last two years, I have been contacted by medical providers who wanted information about my wife or two sons (both over 18). Yesterday I was contacted by an on-demand medical clinic inGlendale,CA. They were calling here to speak to my son (who is doing a college internship in LA.) While the home number was listed as the contact number on insurance, he is not obviously here. I answered the phone, which show Glendal Urgen on the caller ID. The caller says, “can I speak to Kevin.” I said he is not here, in fact he is inCalifornia. The caller says – “I need to get in touch with him?”
So then in my own smart-alec way I said – “Who are you and why do you want to talk to him?” My caller then became a little more open now and told me that she was with the clinic and needed to speak to him about some test results. I then told the caller, I was his father and could provide her with his cell phone number so that she could contact him. I then asked her if she could share with me what she was going to tell him. My wife and I knew he was going to have some tests run. As parents we were concerned and would like to have known the results.
Of course, her response was the obligatory spiel about not being able to share privileged health information. I didn’t argue with her, I provided her the number and let her contact my son. I wanted to engage her but I didn’t.
I was thinking, I brought this kid into the world, I changed his diapers and I am still paying for his college, and I will be paying your damn bill – but you can’t share the test results, because some lawyer has told your practice to not ever tell anyone anything and you will be protected.
Perhaps I should have told the caller that I was Kevin, and asked her to give the test results. Then when she did, my son Kevin could have filed suit against the clinic. Would he win? I doubt it. So in the end it would have been ok for me to know.
This is why HR people get jacked up about new laws and regulations. They always become something they were never intended to be. Have you ever heard of FMLA?