NOTICE REGARDING PRIVACY OF PERSONAL HEALTH INFORMATION
For Allergy & Asthma Adult and Pediatric Medical Group of the Redwoods (AAAPMG)
THIS NOTICE DESCRIBES HOW MEDICAL INFORMATION ABOUT YOU MAY BE USED AND DISCLOSED AND HOW YOU CAN GET ACCESS TO THIS INFORMATION. PLEASE REVIEW IT CAREFULLY.
This notice is provided to you pursuant to the federal law known as HIPAA. If you have any questions about this notice, please contact us at (707) 525-0211.
Who Will Follow This Notice.
This notice describes the medical information practices of all group health plans maintained by AAAPMG and that of any third party that assists in the administration of Plan claims. The Plan has been amended to incorporate the requirements of this notice.
Our Pledge Regarding Medical Information.
We understand that medical information about you and your health is personal. We are committed to protecting medical information about you. We create a record of the health care claims reimbursed under the Plan for Plan administration purposes. This notice applies to all of the medical records we maintain. Your personal doctor or health care provider may have different policies or notices regarding the use and disclosure of your medical information created in the doctor’s office or health provider’s facility.
This notice will tell you about the ways in which we may use and disclose medical information about you. It also describes our obligations and your rights regarding the use and disclosure of medical information.
We are required by law (1) to make sure that medical information that identifies you is kept private, (2) give you this notice of our legal duties and privacy practices with respect to medical information about you, and (3) follow the terms of the notice that is currently in effect.
How We May Use and Disclose Medical Information About You.
The following categories describe different ways that we use and disclose medical information. For each category of uses or disclosures we will explain what we mean and present some examples. Not every use or disclosure in a category will be listed. However, all of the ways we are permitted to use and disclose information will fall within one of the categories.
We may use or disclose medical information about you to facilitate medical treatment or services by providers. We may disclose medical information about you to providers, including doctors, nurses, technicians, medical students, or other hospital personnel who are involved in taking care of you.
We may use and disclose medical information about you to determine eligibility for Plan benefits, to facilitate payment for the treatment and services you receive from health care providers, to determine benefit responsibility under the Plan, or to coordinate Plan coverage. For example, we may tell your health care provider about your medical history to determine whether a particular treatment is experimental, investigational, or medically necessary or to determine whether the Plan will cover the treatment. We may also share medical information with a utilization review or precertification service provider. Likewise, we may share medical information with another entity to assist with the adjudication or subrogation of health claims or to another health plan to coordinate benefit payments.
For Health Care Operations.
We may use and disclose medical information about you for other Plan operations. These uses and disclosures are necessary to run the Plan. For example, we may use medical information in connection with: conducting quality assessment and improvement activities; underwriting, premium rating, and other activities relating to Plan coverage; submitting claims for stop-loss (or excess loss) coverage; conducting or arranging for medical review, legal services, audit services, and fraud and abuse detection programs; business planning and development such as cost management; and business management and general Plan administrative activities.
To Business Associates.
We may contract with individuals and entities known as Business Associates to perform various functions or provide certain services. In order to perform these functions or provide these services, Business Associates may receive, create, maintain, use and/or disclose your medical information, but only after they sign an agreement with us requiring them to implement appropriate safeguards regarding your medical information. For example, we may disclose your medical information to a Business Associate to administer claims or to provide support services, but only after the Business Associate enters into a Business Associate Agreement with us.
As Required by Law.
We will disclose medical information about you when required to do so by federal, state or local law. For example, we must disclose medical information when required by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services pursuant to an investigation regarding the Plan’s HIPAA compliance. Further, we may disclose medical information when required by a court order in a litigation proceeding such as a malpractice action.
To Avert a Serious Threat to Health or Safety.
We may use and disclose medical information about you when necessary to prevent a serious threat to your health and safety or the health and safety of the public or another person. Any disclosure, however, would only be to someone able to help prevent the threat. For example, we may disclose medical information about you in a proceeding regarding the licensure of a physician.
Disclosure to Health Plan Sponsor.
Information may be disclosed to another health plan maintained by Employer for purposes of facilitating claims payments under that plan. In addition, medical information may be disclosed to Employer personnel solely for purposes of administering benefits under the Plan.
Organ and Tissue Donation.
If you are an organ donor, we may release medical information to organizations that handle organ procurement or organ, eye or tissue transplantation or to an organ donation bank, as necessary to facilitate organ or tissue donation and transplantation.
Military and Veterans.
If you are a member of the armed forces, we may release medical information about you as required by military command authorities. We may also release medical information about foreign military personnel to the appropriate foreign military authority.
We may release medical information about you for workers’ compensation or similar programs. These programs provide benefits for work-related injuries or illnesses.
Public Health Risks.
We may disclose medical information about you for public health activities, such as to prevent or control disease, injury or disability, report births and deaths, or to notify a person who may have been exposed to a disease or may be at risk for contracting or spreading a disease or condition.
Health Oversight Activities.
We may disclose medical information to a health oversight agency for activities authorized by law. These oversight activities include, for example, audits, investigations, inspections, and licensure. These activities are necessary for the government to monitor the health care system, government programs, and compliance with civil rights laws.
We may release medical information if asked to do so by a law enforcement official: (1) in response to a court order, subpoena, warrant, summons or similar process, (2) to identify or locate a suspect, fugitive, material witness, or missing person, (3) about the victim of a crime if, under certain limited circumstances, we are unable to obtain the person’s agreement, (4) about a death we believe may be the result of criminal conduct, (5) about criminal conduct at the hospital, and (6) in emergency circumstances to report a crime; the location of the crime or victims; or the identity, description or location of the person who committed the crime.
Coroners, Medical Examiners and Funeral Directors.
We may release medical information to a coroner or medical examiner. This may be necessary, for example, to identify a deceased person or determine the cause of death. We may also release medical information about patients of the hospital to funeral directors as necessary to carry out their duties.
National Security and Intelligence Activities.
We may release medical information about you to authorized federal officials for intelligence, counterintelligence, and other national security activities authorized by law.
Your Rights Regarding Medical Information About You:
Right to Access.
You have the right to request access to the portion of your protected health information containing your enrollment, payment and other records used to make decisions about your Plan benefits. This includes the right to inspect the information as well as the right to a copy of the information. You must submit a request for access in writing to the Privacy Officer. If you request a copy of the information, we may charge a reasonable fee for the costs of copying, mailing or other supplies associated with your request. We may deny your request to inspect and copy in certain circumstances. If you are denied access to medical information, you may request that the denial be reviewed.
Health care providers may create, gather or manage certain electronic health records regarding your health information. Beginning in 2011 (or such later date prescribed by law), to the extent those records are in the possession of the Plan, you will have the right to request access to the electronic health records. If you submit such a request and we maintain any such records, we will charge you our actual labor costs to comply with your request.
Right to Amend.
If you feel that medical information we have about you is incorrect or incomplete, you may ask us to amend the information. You have the right to request an amendment for as long as the information is kept by or for the Plan. To request an amendment, your request must be made in writing and submitted to the Privacy Officer. In addition, you must provide a reason that supports your request. We may deny your request for an amendment if it is not in writing or does not include a reason to support the request. In addition, we may deny your request if you ask us to amend information that: is not part of the medical information kept by or for the Plan; was not created by us, unless the person or entity that created the information is no longer available to make the amendment; is not part of the information which you would be permitted to inspect and copy; or is accurate and complete.
Right to an Accounting of Disclosures.
You have the right to request an “accounting of disclosures” of your protected health information containing your enrollment, payment and other records used to make decisions about your Plan benefits, where such disclosure was made for any purpose other than treatment, payment, or health care operations. To request this list or accounting of disclosures, you must submit your request in writing to the Privacy Officer. Your request must state a time period which may not be longer than six years. Your request should indicate in what form you want the list (for example, paper or electronic). The first list you request within a 12 month period will be free. For additional lists, we may charge you for the reasonable costs of providing the list. We will notify you of the cost involved and you may choose to withdraw or modify your request at that time before any costs are incurred.
In addition, health care providers may create, gather or manage electronic health records regarding your health information. Beginning in 2011 (or such later date prescribed by law), to the extent those records are in the possession of the Plan, you will have the right to request an accounting of the disclosures of the electronic health records (including for purposes of treatment, payment or health care operations) during the three years that preceded the request.
Right to Request Restrictions.
You have the right to request a restriction or limitation on the medical information we use or disclose about you for treatment, payment or health care operations. You also have the right to request a limit on the medical information we disclose about you to someone who is involved in your care or the payment for your care, like a family member or friend. For example, you could ask that we not use or disclose information about a surgery you had. We are not required to agree to your request. To request restrictions, you must make your request in writing to the Privacy Officer. In your request, you must tell us (1) what information you want to limit; (2) whether you want to limit our use, disclosure or both; and (3) to whom you want the limits to apply, for example, disclosures to your spouse.
Right to Request Confidential Communications.
You have the right to request that we communicate with you about medical matters in a certain way or at a certain location. For example, you can ask that we only contact you at work or by mail. To request confidential communications, you must make your request in writing to the Privacy Officer. We will not ask you the reason for your request. We will accommodate all reasonable requests. Your request must specify how or where you wish to be contacted.
Right to a Paper Copy of this Notice.
If you received this notice electronically, you have the right to a paper copy of this notice. You may ask us to give you a paper copy of this notice at any time. To obtain a paper copy of this notice, contact the Privacy Officer.
Breach Notification Requirements.
Beginning as of September 23, 2009, in the event unsecured protected health information about you is “breached” and the use or disclosure of the information poses a significant risk of financial, reputational or other harm to you, we will notify you of the situation and any steps you should take to protect yourself against potential harm due to the breach. We will also inform HHS and take any other steps required by law.
Changes to this Notice.
We reserve the right to change this notice. We reserve the right to make the revised or changed notice effective for medical information we already have about you as well as any information we receive in the future.
If you believe your privacy rights have been violated, you may file a complaint with the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. To file a complaint with the Plan, contact the Privacy Officer. All complaints must be submitted in writing. You will not be penalized for filing a complaint.
Other Uses of Medical Information.
Other uses and disclosures of medical information not covered by this notice or the laws that apply to us will be made only with your written permission. If you provide us permission to use or disclose medical information about you, you may revoke that permission, in writing, at any time. If you revoke your permission, we will no longer use or disclose medical information about you for the reasons covered by your written authorization. You understand that we are unable to take back any disclosures we have already made with your permission, and that we are required to retain our records of the care that we provided to you.
This notice is effective January 5, 2015.