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The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) requires health care providers to protect the privacy of your medical information- even from those closest to you – your family members and friends.

If you don’t tell them otherwise, a health care provider or health plan may share your information with family members or friends involved in your health care or those involved in payment for your health care.

Under HIPAA, your health care provider can share your information face-to-face, over the phone, or in writing. A health care provider or health plan can share this information if:

  • You give your provider or plan permission to share the information.
  • You are present and do not object to sharing the information.
  • You are not present, and the provider determines based on professional judgment that it’s in your best interest.

This is why you are often asked to sign a form stating that you have received the provider’s Privacy Statement. The form often includes an Authorization section that gives permission to share your medical information with other health care providers, your spouse, or other people you designate. If you are incapacitated because of illness or accident, your medical provider needs a written list of everyone they are allowed to speak with including your spouse, children and siblings.

It’s best to have HIPAA release forms completed and signed before the event of a medical emergency so that the people you want involved in your care are authorized to receive important information. Every time you visit a doctor, hospital, medical lab, etc., make sure to sign the provider’s HIPAA form. Remember that each HIPAA form applies only to that particular provider, so you will need to sign a separate one for each provider.

If you do not want someone to receive your information, having the HIPAA forms in place with help you make sure they do not receive your healthcare information.

For more information about sharing your health information with family members and friends, or more information about HIPAA, visit www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/hipaa/understanding/index.html.

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The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) requires health care providers to protect the privacy of your medical information- even from those closest to you – your family members and friends. If you don’t tell them otherwise, a health care provider or health plan may share your...