Monday, December 26, 2011

Know About How to Buy Individual Health Insurance Plans

Individual health insurance covers all the medical expenses generated by illnesses, diseases or accidents. There are a number of such health insurance plans available, but choose one as per your potential needs and budget. Health policy stated as a legal contract and the price of the legal contract is called as the premium. The plans are created in order to cover for the policyholder's medical expenses. With the increasing healthcare cost, it has become necessary to be equipped with individual health plans. Instant accident can not only be damaging to the health of any individual, but can also end up costing somebody his/her life savings or home if he/she end in the hospital and face a huge medical bills. For such a reason, it has become vital to have health insurance as well as compare your insurance coverage.

Due to the presence of a number of health insurance providers, one of the most confusing aspects of obtaining individual insurance plans is their different price. However, researching numerous companies and their rates might make a big difference in the amount the consumer has to pay for his/her health insurance. If you are searching for a plan, taking the help of the internet is not a bad idea. All people are advised to shop for the plans. Even for people who are in great health, one accident could land them in economic danger without insurance. If you apply for a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO), you will avail services of those physicians listed as part of that network.

It is vital to know exactly what services covered under your individual health insurance plan are. In fact, you are advised to look for a plan that covers all existing prescription expenses. Even coverage for X-rays is also necessary. You are advised to appreciate a comprehensive plan that offers sufficient coverage and higher deductibles. In addition, you plan needs to cover surgery cost, hospital care expenses and so on. Cashless cards are advisable. It is vital to look for a insurance plan that meets your requirements perfectly within your budget.

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Find out the ways on how you can get different individual health quotes. Finding individual health insurance quotes is very important to save money on you premiums.

1. Search a reputed and known agent or broker who sells individual health plans. The agent or broker must be selling different individual health insurance plans from varied companies. Doing so will enable you to compare these quotes.

2. If you do not find appropriate plan by your agent, then searching the websites of the companies is won't be a bad idea. Ensure that you get different insurance quotes from a number of health insurance providers and compare them.

3. As soon as you gather quotes of various companies, compare the premium for each type of individual health plans. Find the features of PPO and HMO policies.

4. If you have made up your mind, it is advised to read the company's policies, terms and conditions. You must know what the limitations and inclusions are before buying a health plan.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Top Ten Health Insurance Tips to Consider When Buying Health Insurance

Whether you are switching health insurer or buying health insurance for the first time there are a few points that you should consider before you make up your mind:

1. Cover for private accommodation in public hospitals in most cases does not guarantee fast access to treatment. Make sure you have a plan with some access to private hospitals. Even if it only covers a portion of the charges it's better than not having any access to these hospitals or being faced with extremely large bills for treatment you needed in a hurry.

2. Check that hospitals local to you are not excluded and don't have excesses applied to accommodation. Most people prefer to be close to home when they are sick or in hospital so that friends or relatives can visit or be close at hand should they be needed in an emergency.

3. Check that there are no shortfalls on specific treatments or procedures such as radiotherapy, chemotherapy, orthopaedic. Where there is a shortfall on orthopaedic treatments consider the likelihood of you needing any of these treatments in the near future. Young people are less likely to need these treatments than older people. You may be able to upgrade in the future if affordability is an issue right now.

4. Check that you have full cover for day case treatment such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy and colonoscopies in private hospitals - these procedures account for 60 -70% of all health insurance claims.

5. Try to ensure you have cover for direct settlement MRI and CT scan centres which are local to you. This means you won't have to wait to get access and you don't need to pay if they are classified as 'direct settlement' centres.

6. Try to ensure you have cover for major cardiac procedures in all the main private hospitals and hi-tech or specialist centres

7. Check that there is a low outpatient excess, this will ensure you get more money back from your outpatient expenses.

8. If you want cover for day-to-day benefits such as GP, Physiotherapist and dentist ensure that you are getting long-term value for money - check the cover for each benefit & how many visits are covered per benefit. Do you really need this cover right now? If you have young children or you are undergoing regular treatment it may be worthwhile however if not then weigh up how much you are paying for these benefits and how much you are likely to use them. Some of these plans can cost five of six times the price of seeing a doctor so if you usually only attend a doctor once or twice a year it may not be worthwhile having this type of cover.

9. Check for any other benefits that may be of interest to you - health screening, maternity benefits, kid's benefits etc.

10. Consider the health insurance needs of all the family individually - consider different plan & levels of cover for each. You might choose to have the children on one level plan and the adults on another.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Importance Of Having Good Health Insurance

I never truly understood the importance of having Health Insurance until recently. I knew and understood the benefits of having it, exactly what cover it provided you with and the extra cover and benefits available but knowing and experiencing are two very different things. What I recently learned could not be thought by any insurance broker or read in any health insurance brochure.

It all happened a few months ago when I was feeling a little ill and decided to go into the hospital and get checked over. After a long wait in the Accident and Emergency department I was finally seen by a doctor. While the wait was quite frustrating I understood that there were people a lot worse than me that needed to be seen as ambulances rushed people in and out for about 6 hours. It reminded me of something resembling a zoo to say the least. Total chaos and noise everywhere, people on trolleys, drunken people, sick children, people on drugs (and not the kind you get from the doctor), people rushing up and down halls etc. Not a nice experience.

Once examined by the doctor a couple of blood tests later and I was all checked in. Operation scheduled for that afternoon. No long waiting period or scheduled appointments months in advance. No I would be seen that day. The first benefit of my health insurance was that I got seen. The second was that I got a room to myself so off I go to my private room to enjoy a bit of peace and quiet. Five star it was not but comfortable, clean and with its own private bathroom attached I was certainly feeling very special compared to other patients who lay in wards of 6-8 people or even those still lying on a trolley downstairs from the night before.

Our health system is seriously overstretched with no sign of any improvement in the short-term. Similar situations prevail across the country as more and more departments are closed down and moved to other hospitals to try to create centres of excellence.

Private healthcare won't necessarily guarantee you will be dealt with quicker as serious cases still get priority but it certainly helps you obtain a bed and clears up any financial worries you may have about any treatments you require. A quick look over my admissions form tells me that a private room in a public hospital costs close to €1,000 per day. And that's before you even talk to a doctor, consultant or surgeon etc. Even in a public ward you can expect to pay a government levy of €75 per day up to a maximum of 10 days (€750) in any 12 months. Mu bill in the end was over €5,000 for just 4 nights a quick operation, nothing too specialised and the usual treatment one would expect in a hospital.

The alternative to private health insurance is not a nice one I can assure you. A walk along the public ward on the floor above really opened my eyes to the benefits I was receiving downstairs. The noise of other patients and their visitors as they crowded in at visiting times, sickness everywhere and even just the general feel of the place would be enough to make you sick. Not to mention the arguments you could have over the TV.

Yes health insurance can be expensive and premiums are increasing across the board but the alternative is even more expensive. What if you can't get the treatment you need, when you need it or have to pay for private care? Would you be able to? I know I certainly couldn't afford it. Would you put off attending a doctor or hospital for fear of what it might cost you and what would these actions cost your health? If you think health insurance is expensive think of the alternative and you may just see the benefits.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Advantages and Disadvantages of HIPAA

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was enacted for the regulation of health insurance in a way that such cover is not affected or lost if a person changes or loses the job. The Act has certain distinct advantages and has also thrown up certain disadvantages, 3 of each are highlighted below.

• Advantages

1. Privacy: Privacy is important to everyone and HIPAA has made extensive provisions to allow you to control your personal medical history and any such related and sensitive data. The provisions give you the right to access and correct such information and even clearly state how or to whom such data should be disclosed. Such measures have dramatically improved the protection and curtailed unnecessary sharing of personal information.

2. Pre-existing Norms: The Act prevents any discrimination based on genetic conditions or certain stated health factors. Also while taking into consideration the pre-existing conditions the company is allowed to include health issues and treatments only in the previous six months and no further. Also if such conditions do exist coverage can be delayed by 12-18 months only.

3. Portability and Simplification: HIPAA provides you with better support to change healthcare coverage. It even limits or removes the exclusion period based on a prior policy that you may have had. The aim is to simplify the entire process by giving you greater flexibility and stating definite rules while expanding the coverage base in your favor.

• Disadvantages

1. Increased Costs and Labor: In keeping up with the stringent provisions of HIPAA the businesses that manage your healthcare have to bear increased expenditure on computers and software for adhering with all the privacy requirements. The paperwork also increases significantly to comply with the Act due to provisions of portability etc. Furthermore the businesses have to keep readjusting their policies according to amendments in the Act and may also have to hire people and provide adequate training to work within the purview of HIPAA.

2. Misinterpretations and Restrictions: The elaborate privacy rules of HIPAA can often come in the way during emergency situations as such private information can be dispensed only to certain entities and that too for a short period. Furthermore any misinterpretation of the provisions may impede or slow down the passing of information. For example, healthcare companies might find it difficult to get information about a person from hospitals. Fear of the law can also affect research work carried out by doctors.

3. Electronic Format: HIPAA urges widespread use of electronic formats to store, process and share information. Such systems must huge spending and considerable maintenance costs then. Also since such medium is susceptible to attacks, the security measures have to be constantly updated to keep the data safe against unauthorized access, corruption and stealing.

HIPAA was brought into existence for the benefit of consumers and as you can see for yourself its provisions and safeguards have been extremely helpful. Various changes to the Act have brought in certain negativity too, but the pros still outweigh the cons and constant efforts are being made to bring in changes to make the Act more and more useful and stable.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Medical Scheme for BPL Families

As the name suggests, Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana is a medical health insurance scheme which has been brought out by the Ministry of Labor, Government of India to benefit the families which are below the poverty line. The objective of Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana is to provide protection against financial liabilities which arise out of health issues where hospitalization is required for poor people in India. Under this medi claim program, the beneficiaries are entitled up to Rs. 30,000 of hospitalization coverage for several diseases where hospitalization is needed. This health insurance India program was started in April 2008. At the end of 2011, more than 26 million smart cards have been issued till date and up to more than 3 million hospitalized cases have been registered.

This health insurance India program has various advantages such as acceptance of preexisting conditions, no age limit, coverage for up to five members in a single family with couple and three dependents. The beneficiaries of this medi claim plan will only have to pay Rs.30/- to register while the state government and the central government shall pay the premiums to the insurance companies assigned to offer health cover. The central government provides 75% of the finance in all the states and the respective state governments contribute the rest of the amounts. While for north-eastern states and Jammu and Kashmir, the central government of India will pay 90% of the finance and these state governments have to contribute only 10% of the remaining finance.

One of the major features of this health insurance India program is that it has been designed as business model where proper measures have been taken to ensure that various stakeholders such as the central government, state government, insurance companies, intermediaries and hospitals do not face any losses in the long run.

For cost reduction, an extensive help of information technology is being used which includes the introduction of smart cards which are given to the beneficiaries, hospitals equipped with biometric systems and computers connected to the servers which provide information at the district level. The introduction of information technology has helped in significant cost reduction thanks to the minimal usage of paper.

This health insurance India scheme comes with the advantage of portability which means that an individual can get treatment any hospital in India where the RSBY Smart card is accepted.

This medi claim program has been equipped with a high level monitoring system which monitors every activity and transaction which takes place and ensures that the program is running smoothly.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

No Medical Life Insurance Is Popular Owing To Its Simplicity

Many people qualify for no medical life insurance. Even those people who wait for applying in later years are eligible for this type of insurance, which is easily possible until 65 years of age. You may usually need one or possibly two medical exams. They usually require urine or blood test. This could be avoided if you are fairly in good health.

Nowadays, people tend to survive longer since they take good care of themselves. Everybody seems to be looking out what they consume, and are on one or the other exercise routine. With some efforts, every individual is doing a good job at maintaining their weight and health. High blood pressure problems are controlled much more easily. This results in staying healthier for a longer period. Hence, medical exam for life insurance has become quite optional.

Information access is much easier now than it was in earlier days. All these issues have allowed the insurance firms to issue the policies to more and more people without having them to do the medical exam for life insurance. All that is needed in most cases is the customary non medical questionnaire.

No medical life insurance was usually being provided to younger people in the past. It is now accessible to people up to age 65. Actually, few companies have shortened their forms, while making sure that all the areas are covered.

It is quite astounding that these no medical life insurance policies are fairly affordable. Insurance firms are in the business for making money. They do ascertain that they select risks that qualify. Therefore, if you are between 18 and 65 years of age and are fit and fine, you could apply and watch whether you could qualify or not. There is no need of giving any medical exam. Just some targeted health questions will be asked.

If you choose, the policies could be issued online. It takes about fifteen minutes for an insurance company to check the information and assure themselves that you do qualify for insurance without any medical exam. Upon approval you could print out your insurance policy right then and there.

The policies that are offered are term insurance policies with ten, fifteen, twenty and thirty year categories. This means there is no decrease in death benefit during this term period. They continue to be the same except you choose to lessen your coverage. Also, the premiums are the same all over the term period. The policies could be renewed towards the end of term period without having to qualify yet again. However, you will pay higher premiums from this point onwards.

In case of those applicants, who are not qualified by the company, may have to undergo medical examination. This must be considered as a hopeful sign, since the company could have simply turned down the policy. Subsequent to the medical underwriting, some people do get qualified even though they might not be in a perfect health condition.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

How to Buy International Health Insurance in Limited Time?

Taking a break from work and escaping into tranquil corners of the world truly helps me in rejuvenating my senses. After visiting all the beautiful places in my homeland, I am planning to explore serene places in distant corners of the world. Thanks to Internet, it did not take me long to find out places where one can enjoy a mesmerizing stay. After searching for a few days, I finally prepared my itinerary and was ready to begin my voyage. Since I am a regular traveler, packing bags is a piece of cake for me. Following this, I took out my checklist and started checking if everything is in place or not.

While checking the list, I realized that I have not informed the insurance company. Without wasting a moment I called my agent and he said - "Sir, our insurance policy does not work in foreign countries. You might have to check with some other agent offering international health insurance."

I was in a fix. I did not know how to find a reliable insurance company in such a short span of time. I could not waste time and thus started searching for companies that offer travel medical insurance. Even after searching for hours and hours I could not find anything useful. Then I thought of calling up a friend who keeps on traveling frequently. After explaining the entire situation to him, he advised me to visit Expat Global Medical. With no options left I visited the website and it saved me from the hassle of finding insurance companies and their quotes. The quotes given by them were really appropriate and without their help my trip had not been possible.

Many of the travelers or even expatriates come across such problems quite frequently and Expat Global Medical is the best place one could visit to solve insurance related problems. One thing that you should know about this website is it is not affiliated to any insurance company. They would not sell anything to their customers just for earning a few extra bucks.

The needs and requirements of the customers are analyzed and the best suitable insurance policy is suggested. Along with providing customers with the best policies, Expat offers best quotes from insurance companies as well. So, whenever you are looking for an international health insurance policy get in touch with professionals at this company and they would help you in taking an intelligent decision.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Ten Tips for Comparing Health Care Policies

Australians already know that health coverage can provide security for individuals and families when a medical need arises. Many, however, do not know how to find the best value when comparing health insurance policies.
Below are 10 tips everyone should read before shopping for private health coverage.
1. Choose coverage that concentrates on your specific health needs, or potential health needs.
The first thing you should do before comparing your health plan options is determine which policy features best fit your needs. A 30-year-old accountant, for instance, is going to need very different coverage than a 55year-old pro golfer, or a 75-year-old retired veterinarian. By understanding the health needs that most often correspond to people in your age and activity level group - your life stage - you can save money by purchasing only the coverage you need and avoid unnecessary services that aren't relevant. For instance, a young family with two small children isn't going to need coverage for joint replacement or cataract surgery. A 60-year-old school teacher isn't going to need pregnancy and birth control-related services.
Whether it's high level comprehensive care you're after, or the least expensive option to exempt you from the Medical Levy Surcharge while providing basic care coverage, always make sure you're comparing health insurance policies with only those services that make sense for you and your family.
2. Consider options such as Excess or Co-payment to reduce your premium costs.
When you agree to pay for a specified out-of-pocket amount in the event you are hospitalized, you sign an Excess or Co-payment option that will reduce your health insurance premium.
If you choose the Excess option, you agree to pay a predetermined, specific amount when you go to hospital, no matter how long your stay lasts. With a Co-payment option, you agree to pay a daily sum up to a pre-agreed amount. For example, if Joanne has an Excess of $250 on her medical coverage policy and is admitted to hospital, regardless of how long her stay turns out to be, she will pay $250 of the final bill. If Andrew has signed a $75x4 Co-payment with his provider, he will pay $75 per day for just the first the first four days of his hospitalization.
For younger individuals who are healthy and fit with no reason to expect to land in hospital any time soon, either of these options are great ways to reduce the monthly cost of your medical insurance premiums.
Keep in mind that different private insurers have their own rules when it comes to Excess and Co-payments, including how many payments you will need to make annually on either option. It is important to read the policy thoroughly and ask questions in advance in order to have a clear understanding of what you are paying for, and what you can expect coverage-wise in the event that you are hospitalized. Also, make sure you choose an Excess option greater than $500 if you're purchasing an individual policy, or $1,000 for family coverage, in order to be exempted from the Medicare Levy Surcharge.
3. Pay your health insurance premium in advance before the cost increases.
Each year insurance providers increase their premiums by approximately five percent sometime around the first of April, a practice approved by the Minister of Health. By instituting these annual increases, your health insurance provider retains the ability to fulfill their obligations to policyholders despite increasing medical costs.
Most private medical policy providers allow policy holders to pay for one year's premium in advance, which locks them into the previous year's rate for an additional 12 months - a great way to save money. In order to take advantage of the savings offered, most insurers require payment in full be made within the first quarter of the year, between January and March.
4. Lock in to low cost health insurance at an early age.
The most obvious advantage any Australian can take when it comes to saving money on your insurance premiums is to buy in early to the least expensive rate available. And by early, we mean before age 31. Everyone who is eligible for Medicare will receive at least a 30 percent rebate from the government on the price of their health care premium, no matter what age you are. However, by purchasing hospital coverage before the July first following your 31st birthday, you can be ensured the lowest premium rate available.
After age 31, your health insurance rate is subjected to a two percent penalty rate increase for every year after age 30 that you did not have health insurance. Therefore, if you wait to purchase private health coverage until you're age 35, you will pay 10 percent more annually than you would have if you had purchased it at age 30.
There are exemptions for some people who were overseas when they turned 30, or for new immigrants, and certain others under special exception status. However, if you purchased private insurance after age 30 and are paying an age loading penalty on your health coverage, you will be relieved of the excess penalty after 10 years of continual coverage.
The earlier in life that you lock in to a private health plan, the more money you will save both immediately and over your lifetime.
5. Choose a health care provider who already works with your health fund.
Determine which hospital you prefer if and when the need for treatment does arise, and seek out those health insurance providers that have an agreement with your hospital of choice before making a decision on your health insurance purchase.
It's a good idea to also find out if your insurer has a list of "preferred providers," which would include those physicians and practitioners who also have made arrangements with the health funds regarding their charges for services. Request this information from every provider when comparing health insurance policies. This way you can be sure you'll receive the full gamut of benefits available at the lowest possible cost. These preferred providers often have "no gap" cover - special rates that reduce or eliminate out-of-pocket expenses to policyholders.
6. Double check your health insurance policy before you schedule any treatment or procedures to make sure you have coverage.
Any time you are headed to a private hospital for treatment, first check to see if the hospital and your health insurance provider have an agreement to be absolutely sure you have adequate coverage. At the same time, check with your insurance provider, physician and the hospital to see if there is a Gap between their fees and the government's Medicare Benefits. This is extremely important because if your physician charges more than Medicare covers and you do not have a "no Gap" plan set up, you could find yourself responsible for a considerable bill. Simply contact your doctor and your insurance company to double check on these items, and avoid being saddled with an out-of-pocket expense your weren't expecting.
7. File your expense claims promptly.
When you have a health insurance membership card, you can file a claim against your benefits at the time of treatment with no additional paperwork or filing to worry about, at least in most cases. Sometimes, you may still need to file a claim with your insurance provider. When that happens, make sure to file your claim promptly. The typical cut off for insurers to pay health care claims is two years. You can file your health insurance claim directly with your provider or at your area Medicare office, which has a reciprocal agreement in place with most insurance providers.
8. Whenever you travel overseas, suspend your health coverage.
Anytime you travel overseas for more than a few weeks but less than 24 months, certain medical insurance providers allow policyholders to suspend their memberships for the time they're out of the country, freeing the policyholders from paying premiums during that time period. While your insurance policy is suspended, your Lifetime Health Cover status remains intact, so you do not have to worry about age loading added when you return home. Contact your health insurance provider to make sure of their policy and rules regarding waiting periods and re-activation.
Remember too that Australia has reciprocal arrangements in certain countries, including New Zealand, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, Sweden and the U.K. For more information, visit
9. Review your policy benefits annually.
Lifestyles change, individuals get married, have children, age - children grow up and move out on their own, couples separate. A lot can happen in the span of 12 months, which is why the Private Health Insurance Ombudsman recommends that everyone review their policy benefits once every year to make sure your coverage still fits your needs.
Regardless of your life changes, your Lifetime Health Cover status remains protected, and waiting periods for benefits that equal your current coverage are waived in compliance with the Private Health Insurance Act of 2007. This means you will be able to file claims related to features you had before you made any changes without interruption in benefits.
10. Compare policies to get the best price and the coverage you need.
To make sure that you are getting the best possible price on your health insurance premium, you must compare policies from different insurers, Make sure you are comparing policies that reflect the treatment plan and coverage you need, without filler services that you won't need. The more you know about private health coverage and government sponsored Medicare, the more likely you will find the best value for your money when it comes time to purchasing or renewing your health coverage.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Why You Need Medical Insurance

Previously considered a luxury, medical insurance has now become a necessity for many individuals, families and businesses. As a result of increasing healthcare costs, a move towards privatisation of healthcare provision and increasing pressure on public health services, medical insurance ensures that you and your family are seen by health professionals in a timely manner... and without the large invoice often associated with these professional services.

As well as emergency situations, these policies provide valuable cover for a wide variety of healthcare related services, including prescriptions, elective surgery, optometry and dental care, among others. When the costs of healthcare is assessed versus the potential costs of being uninsured when a medical emergency occurs, the value for money is readily evident. When you have to pay for healthcare services at the full price, you will understand the true value of this type of insurance.

Even young and healthy individuals who think that they don't require this type of cover should reconsider their situation. Those who think that they will never benefit from insurance and surprised by an unexpected event, which many medical issues are. Offering peace of mind, under the policy you are covered for a variety of medical procedures, depending on the type of coverage selected, you can choose which type of cover is going to suit your lifestyle, budget and possible future requirements. With full cover policies, all types of healthcare are included, with options to include overseas coverage while travelling.

With the rising cost of living, coupled with the increasing expenses associated with a user pay healthcare system, consumers are feeling the pressure of modern day living. Although being insured incurs a cost, this can spread over the life of the policy and will prove its worth when an issue arises. Furthermore, with the increased pressure on public health systems, with insurance to provide access to the best in private care, the waiting time for both essential and not-essential procedures can be delayed, with large waiting lists causing major backlogs.

With comprehensive cover, you are able to access the best of the healthcare system in a timely manner... when and where you need it. Covering life-saving surgery, elective surgery, specialist follow ups and recovery, your policy ensures that you receive the necessary care to make a full and speedy recovery. Furthermore, many policies also cover the cost of prescriptions, even dental care.

Ensure that you and your loved ones have the correct cover for any emergency or medical requirements and enquire about medical insurance today.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

8 Common Myths Surrounding HIPAA

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) like any other Act is made for your benefit. But as the laws evolve many amendments are made which can lead to its misinterpretation by both the patient as well as the professional.

Following are some of the myths that are completely false or only true in part.

1. HIPAA Disallows Sharing Information with Family: This is something doctors might say when they are unsure. But the fact is that your medical information can be shared with a family member or caregivers or for that matter anyone whom you have allowed access. All the doctor has to do is check the records to confirm your written consent.

2. No Exchange of Emails between Doctor and Patients: Again this might be something your doctor says. The law however does require such emails to be suitably encrypted or available only on secured servers. The doctor's refusal might be to avoid taking the many safeguarding measures as required by the law.

3. Information Access Only to Permitted Parties: There are certain bodies that can access your information without your consent. Some of these entities outside the control of HIPAA include government bodies, public health officials, worker compensation bodies, law enforcement agencies investigating domestic violence, abuse or any law related issues and even insurance companies in matters of certain payments.

4. You Can Sue When Denied Information: Just because the entity has not responded to your query does not mean you can go ahead and sue them. What you must do is to follow the proper channel and send a letter to the senior authorities within the entity asking for clarification. A lawsuit must be filed only in the case of more serious violations.

5. Entity Has to Make the Demanded Changes: You have the right to ask certain changes to be made to your personal information, but that does not mean the entity is obliged to make them. You can write a letter clearly pointing out any errors in your data or explaining why the changes are required.

6. All Medical Records have to be Provided to You: You have a right to access your own medical information, but the doctor is allowed by HIPAA provisions to withhold information in certain cases. For example information regarding the medical condition of a patient may be denied if the doctor sees a possibility of the patient harming themselves after seeing such sensitive information.

7. Law Provides Protection for All Medical Records: You will not be safeguarded by HIPAA laws if you decide to upload you medical information on certain sites offering a safe haven and easy access for your data as such sites do not come under its provisions. Any misuse thereof will be your sole responsibility.

8. Medical Information Cannot Be Used at all: While your information cannot be sold or used in advertising, healthcare providers can use such information to communicate with you to inform about new services being offered.

If you have any other doubts or confusion regarding certain provisions of HIPAA, you can always approach the relevant authorities and request clarification on any queries that you may have.

Friday, December 16, 2011

2 Features - HIPAA Notice of Privacy Practices

The various rules of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) details out the specific guidelines to be followed by covered entities when storing and transacting the patients' medical and personal data, whether it is on paper or in the electronic form. Also how the data must be protected from unauthorized use and the penalties in case of violations are outlined too.

But as this Act has evolved, HIPAA has provided you with additional rights to know about privacy practices and your rights in matters concerning personal information. The following 2 points bring out the details of the Notice of Privacy Practices from the point of view of the covered entities and the consumer that is you.

* For Covered Entities: As per HIPAA rules in this case, covered entities will mean healthcare providers like doctors, clinics, nursing homes, dentists, psychologists and pharmacies and also health plans which includes insurance companies and company health plans. Group health plans, healthcare clearing houses and correctional institutes are excluded from such provisions. The covered entities must develop such a notice that explains the rights and practices and must then distribute the same. The notice should be written in a simple and easy-to-understand language and must clearly state how it will manage, utilize and disclose your personal information. Next it must include all its legal duties especially the ones that concern the privacy of Protected Health Information (PHI).

Furthermore the notice must speak about your rights and the ways in which you can contact the covered entity for any kind of clarifications or complaints. Finally it must have details of the authority whom you can contact in case of questions regarding the entity's policy with respect to privacy. This notice for privacy practices must be put up prominently on the entity website and must also be provided to anyone who asks for the same.

* For Consumers: A covered entity must send you its notice for privacy practices, and if you do not find it on the website you can immediately ask for a copy. Such a notice is very important for understanding your rights with respect to how your own information is managed. The notice will clearly state the circumstances under which your information can be disclosed to certain agencies under the law. Also the notice will let you know the conditions that require your written consent when using personal information. Note that the entity is prohibited from disclosing any information in violation to its own notice. You will get a proper understanding of how your PHI is safeguarded and what constitutes violation. Also there will be a number of channels provided through which you can approach the entity or a higher authority for any matter.

A health plan will mostly provide you with this notice at the time of enrollment while a healthcare provider will give it at the first appointment. HIPAA has several privacy laws which can become confusing and difficult to understand. Notices of Privacy Practices are simplified documents that will clarify most of your doubts and allow you to understand your important rights.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

HIPAA - How to File A Complaint in 4 Easy Steps

The laws under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) have made ample provisions to provide you with an insurance cover under various circumstances and also to ensure that all your personal and medical information lying with covered entities is properly protected.

However if you notice that rights to privacy or any other regulations have been violated, you can bring it to the notice of the relevant authorities by filing a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights (OCR). The following 4 steps will guide you through this process.

* Before Filing a Complaint: Before you set out to file a complaint, you must understand the laws properly and know clearly how it has been violated. Follow a small checklist to ensure a rule has been indeed broken. Begin by ascertaining that the entities come under the purview of HIPAA, because certain bodies like law enforcement are excluded. Next you must make sure that the violation has taken place after the laws against it were passed. Finally you must be willing to provide certain personal details while filing a complaint.

* Knowing Your Rights: At times the sheer number of laws and amendments can make things confusing, thus it is very important that you understand your rights completely while filing a complaint. The most important one being that anyone can file a complaint, whether the breach has happened in your case or even if you notice a violation affecting someone else. HIPAA laws strictly disallow any retaliation from the entities side incase a complaint is made. If a covered entity has reacted in an inappropriate manner you must bring it to the notice of OCR immediately. Lastly you can ask assistance from the OCR to help you to complete the complaint form.

* OCR Requirements: You will have to fulfill certain requirements of the OCR while filing complaints. The complaint has to be in writing and can be sent to the office through email, fax or post. Furthermore you will have to provide information to identify yourself in addition to details of the entity in question while describing the violation or omission. Also you have to file such a complaint within 180 days of the event. However OCR has the right to extend such a time period if you can show a convincing reason for the delay. It is recommended that you make use of the OCR form to submit your complaint; these forms are available online or can be sourced from their regional office.

* Submitting the Complaint: OCR has a number of regional offices with each of them covering a certain area. Your written complaint must be posted or faxed to the suitable regional office under whose jurisdiction the violation has taken place. Also remember to address the complaint to the OCR Regional Manager. Note that a complaint sent through email does not require to be signed.

HIPAA has tried to keep covered entities in line by prescribing several guidelines, and alongside has made sufficient provisions for you to approach the relevant authorities in case a violation does take place.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

HIPAA Safety Rule - 3 Safeguards to Be Followed

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) has always emphasized on the need to protect your private data. And keeping in mind the increased usage of electronic medium to manage personal data it has brought in various security measures to protect such information. Accordingly all the covered entities were required to comply with the Security Rule in the year 2005 while it was 2006 for small plans. The Security Rule was concerned with the safety of Electronic Protected Health Information (EPHI) and mentioned the safeguards and security standards to be maintained.

Following are the 3 safeguards which form a part of the Safety Rule and must be adopted by the covered entities after taking stock of their size, infrastructure available, costs involved and the level of security required for protecting their EPHI.

* Administrative Safeguards: A covered entity must first of all have a policy in place which outlines the end-to-end procedures to be followed under this rule. It must also hire a security officer to take care of such procedures and policies. Access to EPHI must be available only to the employees who need the data to perform their duties, besides the access to such information must be kept at a bare minimum. Furthermore the entity must train its workforce so they can function within the policies framed. There must also be sufficient back-up and contingency plans in case of emergencies besides having regular audits to ensure that the procedures are in line with the Security Rule. The entity must ensure such policies are also followed by its vendors and should have these conditions in writing.

* Physical Safeguards: Physical access to the equipment and facilities must be restricted and proper security plans and records must be maintained to follow usage. Besides prescribing specific use of workstation, care should be taken to ensure they are not in public view. Also there must be a definite policy when any of the equipment is discarded or transferred so that the EPHI is safely removed to prevent any misuse.

* Technical Safeguards: Only a limited number of authorized personnel must be allowed to access sensitive EPHI data and there must be a proper mechanism to record such access and any related activity. An entity is responsible for maintaining the integrity of its own EPHI data and should follow adequate procedures to prevent the data from being erased or improper changes being affected. And though access control measures are sufficient when data passes within closed systems, it should be properly encrypted when transmitting it through open networks to prevent interception and misuse.

Besides prescribing security standards the rule also mentions required and addressable specifications alongside. The required specifications are rules that must be strictly followed by all covered entities while the addressable specifications being more flexible allow certain entities to self-evaluate and find the most ideal method of following such specifications. Thus the Security Rule of HIPAA takes into account the need for protecting sensitive information and ensures that the entities handling such data have a built-in mechanism to maintain all the required safeguards.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Health Insurance - Family Requirement

Today Health Insurance has become family requirement. With the increasing spread of various diseases and hospitalization becoming essential due to ailments or accidents, the requirement of having health insurance has become more eminent.

The life style changes have been a root cause of many common diseases like obesity, diabetes. Though many feel to make amends in their life style few can do it for practical difficulties. The lack of time and energy both makes it impossible for many people to effectively undertake daily exercise to control their health problems.

As a result of wrong diet, lack of adequate sleep, mounting stress and burden of office work in addition to rising transport problems has made life of people more troublesome. It has raised the rate of hospitalization in people of all ages.

The cost of hospitalization has increased manifold in last decade. Increasing cost of medicines, consultancy charges of health experts, diagnosis charges and all related hospitalization expenses are increasing and making it burdensome for common man. It is therefore essential that one should guard against the eventuality of such hospitalization for any one member of the family. Taking appropriate health insurance cover is the remedy or way of managing financial crisis due to hospitalization.

The health insurance or the medical policy called by any name takes care of pre-hospitalization consultancy, medicines, and laboratory tests. It also commonly covers post hospitalization treatment for certain period depending upon the nature of the policy. During hospitalization all types of expenditure like medicines, drugs, operation charges, anesthesia, ambulance charges etc are taken care of by the policy.

The increasing rate of accidents taking place every day further increases the possibility of anyone becoming victim. The new age speedy vehicles, roads full of traffic and lack of attention while driving are main causes of increase in number of accidents. Accidents can be fatal one even causing loss of limbs or making one permanent disable. In that situation health insurance policy would come to rescue of such accident victim. It would try to reduce the financial burden due to accident and also assist in restoring back the loss of pay to certain extent depending upon the coverage of the policy.

The right time to buy health insurance is any time- preferably when the person is not having any kind of disease or ailment like diabetes, blood pressure, asthma, arthritis etc. Because all existing diseases are normally covered under exclusions of any such policy. Further known and declared diseases would have to wait for the waiting period to be over to get the claim settled. As such it is always beneficial to have medical insurance policy purchased when you are completely fit.

It is also advisable to take health insurance for the family. Family floater policies are made available by almost all companies. It thus covers the risk of every member of the family including a small child. We cannot foresee who would require hospitalization and at what time. It is beneficial from tax saving point of view as spending on this count get special exemption under Sec. 80 D of Indian Income Tax Act.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Buying Individual Health Insurance at Low Cost

Buying individual health insurance is easy, but you need to check whether you needs are covered or not. A reputed and esteemed health insurance provider covers pre-existing conditions as well so search a valued one.

People from all over the world understand the importance of buying health insurance plans. If a person is not employed or is unable to obtain insurance from his/her employer, then the person has to check various health plans available in the market. Buying health plans on your own is normally much more expensive than when you get it from employer. In fact, employer provided plans offer extensive coverage. According to experts, before finalizing any insurance policy, the customers should ensure they understand the terms and conditions, including type of coverage, benefits, limitations, and other benefits.

Here are some tips to ponder before buying individual health insurance:

Do not buy a cheapest insurance plan: People are suggested not buy a cheapest health insurance plan as it may be cheap in its quality as well. If your coverage needs do not covered, then it is waste of money and time for you. Buy a health insurance policy after confirming that it accomplishes your needs within your budget.

All individual insurance plans are not created for the whole consumers: The other thing you need to pay attention before buying a health plan is that different plans suit different individuals. Before finalizing a plan for you, understand your healthcare needs.

Understanding your needs thoroughly: Before getting a plan, it is vital for you to understand your plan and ensure does it cover your requirements. If you are seeking out to have dependents, it is vital that you understand the medical needs of your family members.

When you have a pre-existing condition: If you have a pre-existing condition, then you cannot buy a health plan blindly. Because, some insurance providers cover pre-existing conditions while some are not. So, it is advised to confirm whether the policy provider covers pre-existing conditions or not.

Taking prescription drugs: Individuals who are administering prescription drugs are advised to check their health insurance providers if they will cover their drugs or medicines or not as some health insurance companies do not cover them.

Get some vital information about your healthcare providers: One of the important things to check is whether the insurance provider is authentic or not. Being a customer, you can ask for the limitations or exclusions in your policy.

Lots of companies offer discounts: If you pay annual premiums for individual health policies, then your healthcare provider offers discount. Once you have decided to buy a particular individual health plan, then you need to decide whether you pay the premium annually to avail this discount or not.

Buying individual health plans

If you are planning to buy individual health plans at discount rates, then getting the assistance of the internet can be proved of great help. In addition, you can companies and their products before choosing one. So, do not get late. Just search a company and ask for individual health quotes.