Thursday, January 19, 2012

Why talk about your illness in a Tai Chi Forum?

I don't want to get into why folks think that Tai Chi is a panacea, that is a big, big area, so lets not go there.  It happens from time to time however  that I read Tai Chi forums or any forum and see students/people  revealing intimate details about their medical history...I think they feel that they are safe in doing this.  I have a suspicion, it may be they feel they are safe under HIPAA and that no one can use their information in a harmful way.

Overall, I think there is still quite a bit of misunderstanding about HIPAA, what it does and does not do. I can provide a definition of the acronym however:  HIPAA is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, Public Law 104-191. One of the things it provides for is a privacy rule and individuals who believe the privacy rule is not being upheld can file a complaint with the Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights.  According to the Wall Street Journal however, the OCR has a long backlog and ignores most complaints Wall Street Journal Examines HIPAA Loopholes  . It does not mean that one's complaint will be ignored but it does sound like a bit of a "crapshoot".   I will readily admit I am one of those who understand very little about it....that admission may be my best ally, I hope it is yours. 

I think some people believe they have a plethora of rights under HIPAA and that belief is coupled with an unawareness of how they may exercise the rights that they do have...key word here ""believe".   My free advice is worth exactly what you pay for it, so I'll simply ask a couple questions: Even if this were a perfect world, which it is not, don't you agree we owe it to ourselves to protect our own health privacy?  How can we disclose intimate details about our medical history in public forums on the web and expect that the information will be private and confidential?

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