At WellStar West Georgia Medical Center, we are serious about guarding your privacy and support efforts to strengthen privacy laws pertaining to people’s personal health information. That’s why we adhere to HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. This federal legislation contains provisions intended to ensure that private information about you and your health remains just that -- private.
Please read our Notice of Privacy Practices at WGMC.
As your health care provider, we’re required to be in compliance with these federal regulations, and, as a patient, you’re entitled to know how HIPAA impacts our relationship with you and what our specific privacy policies are.
Following are some frequently asked questions and answers about this legislation:
HIPAA is an acronym for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. This complex legislation has several components; its intent is to make it easier for people to get and maintain health coverage and to allow the transmission of health information from one organization to another in a consistent manner.
Medical records contain considerable information about a person’s physical and mental health and behaviors. If this information is shared inappropriately, it could make people reluctant to confide in health care professionals. Because they anticipated an increase in the use of computerized systems to collect, store and transmit patients’ personal health information, the framers of HIPAA felt it was crucial to include standards for maintaining patients’ privacy and security. These standards guide health care entities in maintaining their patients’ confidentiality. In addition to protecting computerized health information, the privacy regulations and standards also apply to information that appears on paper or is communicated orally.
Everyone involved in health care, including medical providers, hospitals, insurance companies, health plans, clearinghouses and health departments, must comply with HIPAA. If an entity conducts any of several key transactions electronically, it is also subject to the regulations.
The privacy rules govern your personal access to your records and restrict the access of others. In accordance with HIPAA, you:
HIPAA establishes specific obligations for hospitals and other covered entities.
If you suspect your privacy rights have been violated, you can file a complaint directly with your health care provider or with the federal government. Details should be available in your provider’s notice of privacy practices. A health care provider found to be noncompliant with HIPAA rules may be subject to civil and criminal penalties.
Consult our notice of privacy practices or contact Member Services. You may also learn more at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website at www.hhs.gov/ocr/hipaa.