The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a federal law. HIPAA aims to regulate the standards of protecting patient's sensitive health information from being disclosed without the patient’s consent.
The focus of HIPAA can be broken down into the following areas:
HIPAA itself is not the act that regulates the reporting of medical bills. It is possible for a creditor, or collections agency to violate the provisions of HIPAA, by illegally securing medical information of indebted patients in an attempt to confirm, or validate a suspected medical debt.
If a medical debt appears on your credit report that you believe breaches the HIPAA confidentiality provisions, for example the information obtained would not be accessible unless you were aware and consented to the exchange, or it was requested by another medical professional.
You may potentially have the option of suing the debt collection agency for breaching your privacy afforded by HIPPA. Depending on how the information was obtained, it is possible to initiate legal proceedings against the hospital responsible for retaining the security and privacy of your medical records.
HIPAA does not provide procedures to dispute medical debts reported to credit bureaus, this is governed and prescribed by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Instead, suspected violations of HIPAA afford you a civil lawsuit for the violation of your right to secure private medical records.
HIPAA aims to establish efficient, safe and private healthcare services. Despite no provisions governing financial reporting in HIPAA, the application of the act may still be enforceable depending on the method used by the collection agency to obtain proof of your medical debt.
Consider consulting legal professionals to help navigate the potential recourse available in this scenario.
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