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What is HIPAA? A primer on the healthcare privacy law

If you are being interviewed and a journalist asks you if you are vaccinated, is that a violation of HIPAA?


What if your employer is asking you to verify you have been vaccinated — is that a HIPAA situation?


What if you go to a bar or cafe or keep and a person at the entrance doorway says you have to have to clearly show proof of vaccination to enter? Are they violating your HIPAA rights?

Nevertheless no.

HIPAA — limited for the Well being Insurance policies Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 — only covers what details unique health care-similar entities can share about you without the need of your consent. A journalist doing a televised job interview or a put up-game information convention is not 1 of them. Neither is your employer or your faculty. Neither is the bouncer at one particular of the bars in Los Angeles necessitating proof of vaccination to enter.

“I think that the significant point for persons to realize with regard to HIPAA is that it is extremely certain,” claimed Ankit Shah, a pediatrician with a regulation degree who teaches well being legislation as a lecturer at USC. “Healthcare entities have your information and facts and are prohibited from sharing it without the need of your consent. That is it. That is HIPAA.”

HIPAA has been in headlines a lot currently. U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, clean off a 12-hour Twitter suspension for vaccine misinformation, informed a reporter that asking if she was vaccinated “is a violation of my HIPAA legal rights.” In a identical incident times later on, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott informed a reporter who requested the similar concern, “I believe that is HIPAA.”

Neither of all those incidents are HIPAA violations, Shah mentioned, simply because journalists are not provided in HIPAA. Similarly, regardless of what North Carolina’s lieutenant governor not long ago advised, persons doing door-to-doorway outreach inquiring whether individuals are vaccinated also would not violate HIPAA.

“People usually use [HIPAA] to every person. It’s not relevant to all people. Only healthcare providers, health options, and their organization associates,” Shah mentioned — collectively recognized as “covered entities” under the legislation.

So what would be a HIPAA violation? Hypothetically speaking, some thing like if your doctor’s place of work printed a record on its web-site of each individual client and which vaccines they’d gained. Or if your employer referred to as your medical doctor and requested irrespective of whether you had been vaccinated and the doctor’s office environment informed them without your consent. It would have to be a scenario in which a certain healthcare service provider or linked business enterprise or entity was sharing your personal clinical info without having you consenting to it becoming shared. It is not a lawful protect that prevents anyone from inquiring you if you have been vaccinated in opposition to COVID-19.

“The normal perception of HIPAA is that it’s this overarching privacy umbrella that handles every person on Earth, but no, it is very distinct,” Shah explained.

If somebody asks whether you are vaccinated and you never want to explain to them, you don’t have to. But their inquiring does not violate your legal rights below HIPAA. And in reaction, that particular person can pick out not to hire you or enable you appear in and grab a drink. People appreciate quite a few rights, but entry to satisfied hour is not a person of them.

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