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Keep your health care information private

Keeping your health information private is a priority for many people. In fact, there are laws in place to help ensure that your information isn't passed around without your approval or knowledge. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 is this law.

HIPAA is important because most health records these days are electronic. This leaves room for the patient's information to be misdirected or given out to parties to whom it shouldn't be. Here are some points you might want to remember about keeping your health care information private:

Ask about HIPAA compliance

Anytime you visit a health care facility, even a pharmacy, ask about how they protect your information. There are specific criteria for safety that any entity who deals with health records must follow as long as those are electronically captured, held or transmitted. These include using software, programs or apps that meet the most current standards.

It is possible that a physician might still use paper files and also have electronic copies of everything. This means that you might be at risk of your health information being made public or wrongly transmitted even if you don't actually see the computers in the office.

Your apps might not require compliance

It is important to note that HIPAA compliance doesn't pertain to health record apps and programs that you might use at home. Instead, the HIPAA laws only have to do with medical offices and companies. If you choose to enter your health information into a website or app, you are doing so at your own risk.

The apps and programs available to laypeople aren't of the caliber used by doctors. There are extra levels of security in the professional versions not available outside of those programs.

When information is released

HIPAA laws stipulate that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office for Civil Rights handles claims of violations of this law. This office can set penalties for them, which can include civil fines and voluntary compliance activities.

You might also want to explore your options for seeking compensation. There are many ways that you might be harmed by a third party receiving your protected health care information, so be sure to consider these when you choose to take legal action.

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