The measure prohibits health professionals from revealing your medical records, but it is perfectly legal to ask whether someone has been vaccinated.
The Delta variant of COVID-19 is out here pop locking and dropping and it feels like we’re headed back to lockdown, but the professionals are saying “no”. Schools and employers are now having to figure out how to move forward. Can you require everyone to get the vaccine? How do you prove someone is actually vaccinated? Most importantly.. is any of this legal?
Scroll to 9:13 to go directly to the segment on Marjorie Taylor Greene falsely citing HIPAA – claiming that disclosing vaccination status “was a violation of my HIPAA rights,” the federal regulation that protects confidential health information.
It’s important to note that Marjorie Taylor Greene is a US Representative (Georgia). But this article isn’t about her. I wanted to take a look at HIPAA and what it really means.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, known as HIPAA, governs the privacy of a patient’s health records. Lots of people (including public officials) are a part of the misperception about vaccines; helping fuel a resistance to being inoculated.
What is HIPAA?
In 1996, President Bill Clinton signed into law HIPAA, a broad piece of health and privacy legislation that helped update and regulate how health insurance was sold and how personal medical information was stored as electronic processing became the standard. One aspect of the law, the privacy rule, makes it illegal for certain people and organizations, including health care providers, insurers, clearinghouses that store and manage health data and their business associates, to share a patient’s medical records without the patient’s explicit consent. Those parties handle patient health records on a daily basis.
Does the law make it illegal to ask a person’s vaccination status?
No. The law applies only to companies and professionals in the health care field. Nothing in the law prohibits asking about someone’s health, be it vaccination status or proof that such information is accurate.
In July, the lieutenant governor of North Carolina, Mark Robinson, falsely claimed on Facebook that President Biden’s door-to-door campaign to encourage vaccination and asking whether residents have been inoculated were “illegal” under HIPAA. It is at your discretion to disclose whether you have been vaccinated. No federal law prevents companies from requiring their employees to be vaccinated, though there are certain exceptions if you have a disability or a sincerely held religious belief.