HIPAA: What It Is and How It Affects YOU

Perhaps you have had an on-site wellness coach approach you to have your “bios” done. These are routine assessments such as weight, height, waist circumference, and blood pressure. Many drivers may be hesitant to share such information with someone who is not a doctor. Therefore, common questions like “who will see this information?”; “will it be shared with my employer?”; or “could the results affect my work status?” are very reasonable to consider. In short, all health records and information taken by our coaches is protected, just like medical documents from a physician.  If you yourself have thought about these questions, this article will help you understand the protections provided for your personal health information.

HIPAA stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. This policy was written into law in 1996, and it specifically outlines which health information is protected, and how that health information can be used and/or disclosed. This act has been a crucial part of the medical community since its inception. A major goal of HIPAA is to make sure that a person’s health information is properly protected, while allowing for the flow of necessary health information that is needed to maintain a high quality healthcare system. The Act aims to maintain a balance that allows the use of important information, while protecting the privacy of the people who are seeking care. Given today’s advanced technology and the ease with which information is transferred, HIPAA is a detailed and flexible policy that allows patients to have confidence that their health information is safe.

Any healthcare entity that provides services and transmits them electronically is protected under HIPAA, regardless of size. The type of information that is protected refers to any information that could be used to identify an individual. Included in this would be an individual’s past, present or future physical or mental health or condition, the care provided to an individual, as well as any payments made for healthcare. Essentially any information that can be used to identify a person is prohibited from being shared by anyone except the individual. This means that any personal information that is given to a coach on-site or by phone is protected. It will not be shared with an employer or anyone else who requests it, and cannot be used to identify you as the patron. Your health information is also not to be used without your consent, which is why we have drivers sign specific legal consent forms for any health information used in a public domain.

As a health coach, our goal is to help individuals improve the quality of their daily lives. Rest assured that anything personal that is disclosed will be kept private and only used for its intended and specifically stated purposes. So, as a client or patient looking to improve their condition, do not be afraid to engage and discuss your health with a coach. Your privacy is not only a priority, it is law!


By: Jonathan Contreras