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.

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