Does HIPPA also apply to life insurance?
UPDATED: Aug 26, 2013
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Asked August 26, 2013
HIPAA is a federal law that was put into place to protect the privacy of consumers. Under HIPAA, only certain people or entities are allowed to access your health information, including insurance and medical information. The law is written expressly to deal with privacy concerns in health insurance and does not apply to other types of insurance coverage.
Health insurance is more transparent than, for example, home insurance. Instead of filing a claim with your insurance company, you must repeatedly provide your identification and insurance information to accounting staff who file the claims on behalf of you and the medical provider. Similarly, your private medical information needs to be protected from prying eyes, regardless of why they are searching through your private medical history. HIPAA is designed for that, creating a barrier between your medical history and the world at large.
Life insurance, even when purchased through a group life insurance offer, is a primarily private agreement between you and the insurance company. Most types of life insurance will require a single medical exam before writing the policy, but are not concerned with your medical records once the policy is in force. Because of this, a life insurance policy is less vulnerable to being exploited, and does not warrant the additional legal protection.
Insurance companies are one of the legal entities, including law enforcement, who can legally request information otherwise protected by HIPAA. For insurers, access to your medical information can influence the cost of a life insurance policy or whether it can be underwritten at all. Just as law enforcement may need your medical records to protect you, the insurance company needs them in order to financially protect your needs.
Answered August 26, 2013 by Anonymous