Keeping your employees’ health information secret is incredibly valuable. Unfortunately, the sad reality is that it’s also extremely hard to do. Researchers based at two prestigious universities – Michigan State and Johns Hopkins – determined that hackers didn’t typically cause leaks of personal health information. Instead, it was often attributed to health officials who dropped the ball in this regard. Thus, healthcare providers and employers who charter health insurance policies need to be extra vigilant. If you offer an HRA (health reimbursement arrangement) as part of your benefits package, here is what you should know!
The Definition of PHI
Before 1996, the concept of protected health information was nebulous, delicate, and hard to define. Then, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (aka HIPAA) became law. This Act established strict regulations meant to protect personal health-related information and keep it confidential from viewers who are not allowed to access it. Identifiers covered by the HIPAA Privacy Rule vary.
Other HIPAA Rules About the Matter
Healthcare providers, health insurers, and clearinghouses are all bound by the terms of HIPAA-related rules. Employers are also obliged to follow them under certain circumstances. One instance in which this might happen is when an HRA offer is on the table. Without proper authorization, HIPAA violations are highly probable. And that leads to nothing good for everyone involved.
In Case of Leakages
Information leaks can and will happen. Devices containing PHI could be lost or stolen or otherwise misplaced or exposed. Accidental disclosures or failure to destroy documents also represent malfeasance. Penalties for noncompliance are harsh – $100 might not seem like much, but a $50,000 fine certainly will. And those punishments can stack up when weighed against the severity of the negligence committed. In the most severe cases, the source of the leak can be jailed.
Tips for Ensuring PHI Integrity
Employers are obligated to conceal the PHI related to every one of their workers. Creating privacy protocols around written documents is essential. The rules need to be written as well. Assign one of your employees the responsibility to act as a privacy officer. Continually train all of your employees to understand and implement said rules. Finally, ensure that hard drives containing sensitive information are properly encrypted against potential intrusion.
A Customer Testimonial
One last note from Nisha Rastagi, Owner of the Primrose School of Gambrills: “Since enrolling last year, Drew has been responsive to our needs and those of our employees. He is always a call or email away and responds to our people, whether it is a claim they need to file or they are simply looking to discuss their coverage. Drew makes it so that he handles the benefits, so we can focus on growing our business.” Thanks so much for your kind words, Nisha!
Get Your Voluntary, Supplemental, and Health Insurance Policies with the MWE Partnership!
Are you a business looking to provide your employees with essential voluntary benefits? If so, look no further than The MWE Partnership. When you choose The MWE Partnership, you get experienced service and comprehensive voluntary benefit options that will meet all your employees’ needs. With over 17 years of experience, The MWE Partnership is your go-to provider for all your supplemental benefit needs. If you are interested in finding out how The MWE Partnership can help your business, contact us today! We encourage you to like our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn for the latest voluntary benefit news!