Will I be told if unauthorized people see my health information?

If unauthorized people or companies see your health information, it’s considered a breach of your privacy. If a health care provider or anyone associated with them is aware of the breach, the provider is required by law to inform you.

The provider can notify you by first-class mail or by email if you have agreed to receive such notices electronically. The expectation is that you’ll be notified promptly, but in any case no later than 60 days after the discovery of the breach. If the violation affects more than 500 residents of a state or jurisdiction, the provider may additionally be required to notify the media that a privacy breach has occurred.

The HIPAA Breach Notification Rule requires most doctors, hospitals, other health care providers and health insurance companies to notify you of a "breach" if unsecured information about you is seen by someone who is not supposed to see it. This Federal law also requires health care providers and insurance companies to promptly notify the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services if there is any breach of unsecured protected health information and notify the media and public if the breach affects more than 500 people.

This requirement helps patients know if unsecured protected health information has been breached and helps keep providers accountable for the protection of your health information. Health information that has been encrypted so that people cannot read it is considered to be secure. Health care providers do not have to report if someone who is not authorized attempts to access encrypted information.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.