Your Rights: Protecting Your Healthcare Information
If you’ve been in an accident and are filing a claim, you need to protect your healthcare information to get a fair settlement. Insurance companies will try to get their hands on your medical records to find a reason to deny your claim. It isn’t personal; it’s just how they do business and make a profit. For you, however, this means you need to be cautious and know how to protect your rights.
Limiting the Scope
The insurance company does indeed need to verify your injuries by reviewing your medical records. Without doing this, they have no proof your medical bills were reasonable and necessary. Even though you need to provide some of your medical records to settle your claim, you do not have to provide them full access. This is the first, most important, right you should understand.
Signing a Release
Second, you have to sign a medical release before the insurance company can access your medical records. This is called a HIPPA release. The Healthcare Information Portability and Accountability Act requires HIPPA releases be signed before a third-party can access an individual’s healthcare records.
Protecting Your Rights
To protect your healthcare information, never sign a release provided by an insurance company without first speaking with an attorney. In most cases, you will be required to sign a release to settle your claim. But what insurance companies don’t tell you is you can limit the scope of the records they can access.
HIPPA releases must contain standard verbiage, but you can—and should—specify what records you are releasing. You should also specify what providers the insurance company can contact. Similarly, you should limit the time range from which the insurance company can pull the records.
What Records and From When?
In most cases, the insurance company will need medical records to corroborate the medical bills you submitted for compensation. For example, you would need to release records from the orthopedic surgeon who treated your broken bone. Conversely, you do not need to release records from treating a skin condition from years ago unless they are relevant. The fewer records you release, the harder it will be for the insurance company to find a reason to deny your claim.
On the other hand, you may need to release select records from a preexisting injury if the accident made it worse. In that case, the insurance company needs to determine your compensation for the injury the negligent person proximately caused.