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Emergency bill by Maryland General Assembly

February 5th, 2015

The Maryland General Assembly passed an emergency bill which is designed to highlight and implement certain aspects of HIPAA and patient privacy. According to the new bill, forms will be made available to patients allowing them to request confidential communications with their health insurer or provider. The new bill also allows patients to send their medical information to a different address other than residence.

“The bill also specifies that certain written notices from an insurer to a claimant regarding denial of a claim made on an individual health insurance policy and certain annual summary explanations of benefits provided to an insured are subject to confidential communications requirements under HIPAA privacy rule,” stated the bill.

Simply put, HIPAA Privacy Rule explains that individual can request sending of medical information to another location if he or she is endangered because of the disclosure of certain information.

“Privacy concerns may encourage an individual to delay or avoid seeking services or to pay out-of-pocket despite insurance coverage,” the bill stated.

“This may present a barrier to care for sensitive services such as reproductive care, substance abuse, or mental health. While confidential communication protections are already required under the HIPAA privacy rule, they are not well known.”

“It is important for patients to have confidence in how clinicians and others use their sensitive health information,” Lucia Savage, chief privacy officer of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, told Clemson University, which helped conduct the study.

“Patient-centered decision making in electronic health information exchange can inspire trust in health IT and the papers in the journal, along with this study, give us new insights on these issues.”

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