recommended reading

A HIPAA Twist That Can Hurt

ARCHIVES

By Gautham Nagesh November 5, 2009

recent posts

Today at the TechAmerica panel discussion on identity management, Rick Kam of ID Experts brought up an interesting anecdote that illustrates the importance of using precise language when crafting information security legislation. Kam said confusion over the wording of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) has led to some victims of medical identity theft being locked out of their own medical records.

Here's how it typically happens: Someone steals your Social Security or insurance policy numbers and uses it to pose as you to illegally obtain medical care. Since the provider thinks the impostor is the real you, information concerning the impostor's condition and treatment is added to your medical record. Not only is this fraud, but it can also lead to misdiagnosis and significant personal harm.

But this is the scary part: Even once a breach is detected, repairing the damage is no small feat. According to Kam, some providers have interpreted the language of HIPAA to mean that the impostor's medical information also is protected against disclosure without their consent. In other words, someone can steal your identity, use it to obtain care under your name, put your personal health at risk, and you may no longer have access to your own medical records.

Dan Steinberg of Booz-Allen Hamilton said the confusion is mostly due to misinterpretation of the law. "HIPAA was not meant to replace common sense," he said. But the fact there is any confusion at all speaks to the lack of precision in the original language of the bill.

That's an important point to keep in mind when Congress is considering several pieces of information security legislation. Kam said both the Snowe-Rockefeller and Leahy bills have provisions that may produce unintended consequences for consumers and encouraged other members of the industry to provide the Hill with input on how to improve the legislation.

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

    Download
  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

    Download
  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

    Download
  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.