In the world of the pandemic, we have seen multiple changes in the world. However, one concern creeping up in modern times with the inclusion of the HIPAA vaccine is whether or not potential employers can ask you about your vaccine status. With some grey areas around this information, we have included the basics of medical patient privacy.
What is HIPAA and HIPAA training?
HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. This law refers to healthcare providers and demands that every healthcare provider needs to follow the federal law and standards set forth by the government. If any healthcare provider, laboratory, or medical professional fails to comply with all of the HIPAA regulations, it can result in barring from medical location or taking away of the medical license.
The HIPAA law specifically refers to the law that any sensitive patient information must not be disclosed to anyone else – regardless of if they are in the healthcare profession or not, without the patient’s knowledge. Patients need to be aware of what is disclosed and to whom it is told. If they are unaware of who knows their personal medical information, this is a crime.
Furthermore, patients have the right to ask for medical information if they have not been given enough information during their doctor visits. If you have a physical and you do not have a question answered, this is a HIPAA violation of your rights to know your own medical conditions and status. Doctors need to know the basics of HIPAA training before helping and speaking with any patients.
The US Department of Health and Human Services also included another rule to accompany the broad scope of HIPAA and HIPAA training in the medical world, the HIPAA privacy rule. This privacy rule refers to the punishments that may arise if someone’s privacy has been breached.
For certain organisations, they may find that there has been a security breach in their hospital or healthcare system. In this case, patient records could be leaked. If the security system was not great enough in the first place to fend off an attack, the healthcare provider could be liable for negligence. All healthcare providers should go through HIPAA training to ensure they follow the broad scope of HIPAA correctly.
Who is covered under HIPAA?
There has been some misunderstanding of HIPAA – especially in recent times with the COVID-19 vaccine. People are not sure if job employers and employees who are asking about your medical information can be told the answer to their private information. However, individuals may be surprised to find out the answer of who is allowed, and who is not, allowed to ask individuals about their medical or vaccine status.
One of the main entities that is covered under the HIPAA scope is healthcare providers. Every healthcare provider, regardless of how big the practice is or where they are located, is eligible for HIPAA breaches.
People who transmit health information are subject to being screened by HIPAA to ensure they are following the necessary measures. This online information that can be sent by medical healthcare providers includes eligibility inquiries, patient information, authorization requests, and other data that can be included under the umbrella of the HIPAA transactions rule.
Entities that provide health plans, like insurance companies, are subject to all HIPAA rules and privacy practices. Health plans include a wide range of businesses and sectors, such as health maintenance organisations, long-term insurance companies, employer-sponsored groups, and church-sponsored health plans.
Clearinghouses are businesses and entities that submit and analyze the information they received from another entity, such as receiving information about a patient while processing services to give that patient access to a new insurance policy or healthcare plan.
How does HIPAA training help unvaccinated people?
Those who are not vaccinated may think they are being discriminated against because they are among the few who have chosen to not be vaccinated against COVID-19. However, some people have not been vaccinated due to a lack of vaccines available in their area, or others may simply don’t have access to healthcare.
Whatever the reason for why you have chosen, or not chosen, to be unvaccinated, you have the right to keep this information to yourself; in some instances. HIPAA training can help educate the general public and healthcare providers as to who they can ask for vaccine status and why.
If you are applying for a new job, your employer can ask you about your vaccine status, unless you’re applying for a job in the healthcare industry. If you don’t know if your employer will look at you differently after telling them your vaccination status, you don’t have to answer.
Everyone has the right not to answer – but you also have to be prepared to not be hired due to the unanswering of the question. Employers in certain professions should know the basics of HIPAA training to see if they can legally ask their potential employees about their vaccination status.
Almost all Covid patients in hospitals today are unvaccinated
For those who choose to be unvaccinated, you don’t have to tell healthcare professionals about your vaccine status, but you do have to tell your employers. Doctors in healthcare settings have undergone HIPAA training and understand this rule about disclosure.
Unfortunately for those who are not vaccinated, another downside is the increased rate of hospitalization due to COVID-19. Since people around the world have access to the vaccine, for the most part, those who have been hospitalized with this illness are almost solely unvaccinated people at this stage in the pandemic.
Along with the majority of patients in hospitals being unvaccinated, another scary statistic has arisen; those with severe symptoms and severe COVID-19 cases who are in the emergency room and ICU are also unvaccinated patients. This trend is appearing in hospitals across the entire United States of America, showing the prevalence of this health concern.
Doctors have been stating various trends they have seen in hospitals today, such as no vaccinated people being admitted to the ICU for COVID-19 concerns. Those who are fully vaccinated have a very slim chance of being ill, so the only people in the ICU are unvaccinated individuals. HIPAA training can help doctors and staff at hospitals understand how to best find out who has been vaccinated and who has not.
Children are at high-risk
Furthermore, unvaccinated children are at a high risk of being admitted to the hospital with COVID-19 concerns and side-ailments, such as fever and chills. Although we previously thought children might not be affected as drastically by this pandemic, children have still been admitted to healthcare buildings due to COVID-19 symptoms and diagnoses.
Although the Covid-19 vaccine has helped thousands of people avoid getting sick and getting admitted to the ICU, the patients in the hospital still remain. Fortunately, the numbers have plummeted from just over 15,000 per week compared to 125,000 per week back at the beginning of the year. Since the vaccines are doing so well, doctors are claiming those who do not get the vaccine are not being smart for their own health prevention.
Over half of adults have officially been fully vaccinated in the United States, coming in at a respectable 53% – a number that the inventor would like to see an increase in recent months. Critical care doctors also state the necessary trend of completing the entire series of COVID-19 vaccines instead of solely getting one shot.
Doctors state that there have still been some admissions into hospitals for patients who are only partially vaccinated, meaning they have only had one of their Pfizer or Moderna shots and have not had the second shot yet. In this case, patients need to be aware of the risks of being partially vaccinated and receiving only one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine while they are back out in public, going to work, and seeing friends. Doctors and healthcare workers need to undergo the proper HIPAA training to ensure they can find out what patients have been fully vaccinated and who have not.
Some positive COVID-19 cases are from those with only one vaccination shot
Although people with only one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine are still showing up in hospitals, they are showing up to a lesser degree. The majority of patients who are arriving in hospitals are unvaccinated, meaning they have no shots and they are waiting for their vaccination date – or they are choosing not to get one. In this case, doctors need to follow the protocol set forth in HIPAA training to figure out what patients have been vaccinated in the past.
Along with the presence of unvaccinated patients coming in for COVID-19, unvaccinated patients are also at a high risk of having comorbid disorders that can be exacerbated from COVID-19 compilations. For example, those with pneumonia or cancer can suffer greater side effects that can be fatal if not treated with the COVID-19 vaccine.
If you have an autoimmune disease or cancer, you may need to ask your doctor about the effects of the shots before getting the first one. In this case, it is up to you whether or not you want to tell your doctor about your past medical history regarding your cancer and your choice on vaccination moving forwards.
As you can see, HIPAA is a necessary rule that prevents sensitive patient information from being leaked or improperly told to various medical professionals. Since HIPAA prevents medical professionals, such as healthcare providers and healthcare plans, from telling others about patient information, HIPAA training can help keep the patient feeling safe and secure with their medical practice.
Furthermore, patients should feel confident in their medical provider’s ability to safeguard their sensitive information. By employing security protocols, providers ensure no security hack can break into important patient information.
Lastly, HIPAA training can educate the general public and healthcare providers as to who they can speak to about medical information and when it is appropriate. If your new boss asks you about your vaccination status, employees have the choice to answer or not, but not answering can result in you not being hired at your new job.
Ellen Diamond did her degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. She has an ongoing interest in mental health and well-being.
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