The Department of Health and Human Services struck the right balance between privacy and practicality concerns in revising its medical privacy regulations, according to the Alliance of American Insurers.
HHS announced Aug. 9 that the regulations will allow doctors and hospitals to share patient information with insurance companies—without obtaining the patient’s permission—as long as these records are directly related to health services.
“While it appears workers compensation insurers will not get the specific clarification of the ‘minimum necessary’ standard that was requested, HHS does address the information needs of the industry,” Kenneth Schloman, Alliance Washington counsel, said.
“The Department clearly states that the intent of the regulations is not to impede worker compensation programs and promises to actively monitor the implementation of the regulation to ensure these programs are not adversely affected. Overall, these regulations can provide a workable framework. The key will now be to ensure that the Department’s intent is carried out.”
Property/casualty insurers require access to medical records to settle cases involving automobile injuries, workers’ compensation claims and liability.
The regulation takes effect in April 2003 for all but the smallest health plans. It replaces an earlier Clinton administration proposal that would have required patients’ written consent before medical information could be released. The Alliance opposed those provisions as unworkable.
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