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Contraception, health insurance, war on women

Does HIPAA protect me from providing my employer with information about using birth control?

Arizona, the new Gilead, is considering bill 2625,a piece of legislation that authorizes employers to exempt contraception from healthcare coverage if it is prescribed for, you know, contraception (using the ever eloquent Limbaugh terminology that would be slut use versus non slut use). This is to allow employers with religious “beliefs” to opt out of providing contraception for the purposes of non procreative sex (i.e. fucking for fun instead of purpose).

Many people wonder if HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) would protect them from such legislation. HIPAA is a federal law that, among other things, protects medical records and health privacy.

HIPAA extends to any health care provider, health plan (even if it is provided by the government), hospital, and something called a health care clearing house (no idea what that really is, but according to the web site it involves processing non standard health information). Employers are NOT covered entities under HIPAA. The following organizations so not have to follow the Privacy and Security rules:

 

  • life insurers,
  • employers,
  • workers compensation carriers,
  • many schools and school districts,
  • many state agencies like child protective service agencies,
  • many law enforcement agencies,
  • many municipal offices.”

So, your employer can ask you information about your health for sick leave, for worker’s compensation purposes, for wellness purposes, and for health insurance reasons (to name a few). They can also ask to drug test you, ask you to provide information about your vision or tuberculosis testing or anything else that may (or may not) be needed to perform your work duties. Of course, individual states may have stricter laws protecting rights of employees, but HIPAA is for health care not employment.

If this bill becomes law and your employer in Arizona wants to know why you are using contraception HIPAA will not protect you from releasing that information. The employer could even request medical records as proof. While you would have to agree to allow your doctor to release those records (i.e. under HIPAA your doctor needs your permission to release that information), as Arizona is an “at will” state for employment if you refuse to release the records your job could technically be in jeopardy.

So don’t look to HIPAA to protect you from your employer requesting health information. And yes, if bill 2625 becomes law Arizona will be one step closer to Gilead.

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Discussion

5 thoughts on “Does HIPAA protect me from providing my employer with information about using birth control?

  1. Thanks for this easy to understand explanation of where HIPAA protections end. Important and scary stuff.

    Posted by LittleLegal | May 16, 2012, 8:05 am
  2. Thanks for this straightforward explanation of where HIPAA protections end. So important–and scary.

    Posted by LittleLegal | May 16, 2012, 8:31 am
  3. Great straight forward response, Dr Jenn! I would say simple when the organization is not involved in Treatment, Payment or health care Operations, known as TPO, then they are NOT in the club for HIPAA. You indicated an important point on life insurance that usually asks for health information. The provider that releases the health information must abide by HIPAA and maybe state privacy laws but the life insurance company has no such requirement on privacy. In IT, they call this a leak, memory leak.

    Posted by Rich Hartmann | May 18, 2012, 10:52 am

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: Healthcare Information and Privacy Law Final - LegallyNoted - July 16, 2012

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