Notice of Privacy Practices
Effective February 1, 2012
THIS NOTICE DESCRIBES HOW MEDICAL INFORMATION ABOUT YOU MAY BE USED AND DISCLOSED AND HOW YOU CAN GET ACCESS TO THIS INFORMATION. PLEASE READ IT CAREFULLY.
We respect the confidentiality of your health information. We are required by federal and state laws to maintain the privacy of your health information and to send you this notice.
This notice explains how we use information about you and when we can share that information with others. It also informs you about your rights with respect to your health information and how you can exercise these rights.
We use security safeguards and techniques designed to protect your health information that we collect, use or disclose orally, in writing and electronically. We train our employees about our privacy policies and practices, and we limit access to your information to only those employees who need it in order to perform their business responsibilities. We do not sell information about our customers or former customers.
We may use or share information about you for purposes of payment, treatment and health care operations, including with our business associates. For example:
- Payment: We may use your information to process and pay claims submitted to us by you or your doctors, hospitals and other health care providers in connection with medical services provided to you.
- Treatment: We may share your information with your doctors, hospitals, or other providers to help them provide medical care to you. For example, if you are in the hospital, we may give the hospital access to any medical records sent to us by your doctor.
- Health Care Operations: We may use and share your information in connection with our health care operations. These include, but are not limited to:
- Sending you a reminder about appointments with your doctor or recommended health screenings.
- Giving you information about alternative medical treatments and programs or about health-related products and services that you may be interested in. For example, we might send you information about stopping smoking or weight loss programs.
- Performing coordination of care and case management.
- Conducting activities to improve the health or reduce the health care costs of our members. For example, we may use or share your information with others to help manage your health care. We may also talk to your doctor to suggest a disease management or wellness program that could help improve your health.
- Managing our business and performing general administrative activities, such as customer service and resolving internal grievances and appeals.
- Conducting medical reviews, audits, fraud and abuse detection, and compliance and legal services.
- Conducting business planning and development, rating our risk and determining our premium rates. However, we will not use your generic information for underwriting purposes.
- Reviewing the competence, qualifications, or performance of our network providers, and conducting training programs, accreditation, certification, licensing, credentialing and other quality assessment and improvement activities.
- Business Associates: We may share your information with others who help us conduct our business operations, provided they agree to keep your information confidential.
We may also use and share your information for the following other purposes:
- We may use or share your information with the employer or other health-plan sponsor through which you receive your health benefits. We will not share individually identifiable health information with your benefits plan unless they promise to keep it protected and use it only for purposes relating to the administration of your health benefits.
- We may share your information with a health plan, provider, or health care clearinghouse that participates with us in an organized health care arrangement. We will only share your information for health care operation activities associated with that arrangement.
- We may share your information with another health plan that provides or has provided coverage to you for payment purposes. We may also share your information with another health plan, provider in health care clearinghouse that has or had a relationship with you for the purpose of quality assessment and improvement activities, reviewing the competence or qualifications of health care professionals, or detecting or preventing health care fraud and abuse.
- We may share your information with a family member, friend, or other person who is assisting with your health care or payment for your health care. We may also share information about your location, general condition, or death to notify or help notify (including identifying and locating) a person involved with your care or to help with disaster-relief efforts. Before we share this information, we will provide you with an opportunity to object. If you are not present, or in the event of your incapacity or an emergency, we will share your information based on our professional judgment of whether the disclosure would be in your best interest.
There are also state and federal laws that allow or may require us to release your health information to others. We may share your information for the following reasons:
- We may report or share information with state and federal agencies that regulate the health care or health insurance system such as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the New York State Insurance Department and the New York State Department of Health.
- We may share information for public health and safety purposes. For example, we may report information to the extent necessary to avert an imminent threat to your safety or the health or safety of others. We may report information to the appropriate authorities if we have reasonable belief that you might be a victim of abuse, neglect, domestic violence or other crimes.
- We may provide information to a court or administrative agency (for example, in response to a court order, search warrant, or subpoena).
- We may report information for certain law enforcement purposes. For example, we may give information to a law enforcement official for purposes of identifying or locating a suspect, fugitive, material witness or missing person.
- We may share information with a coroner or medical examiner to identify a deceased person, determine a cause of death, or as authorized by law. We may also share information with funeral directors as necessary to carry out their duties.
- We may use or share information for procurement, banking or transplantation of organs, eyes or tissue.
- We may share information relative to specialized government functions, such as military and veteran activities, national security and intelligence activities, and the protective services for the President and others, and to correctional institutions and in other law enforcement custodial situations.
- We may report information on job-related injuries because of requirements for your state worker compensation laws.
- Under certain circumstances, we may share information for purposes of research.
Certain types of especially sensitive health information, such as HIV-related, mental health and substance abuse treatment records, are subject to heightened protection under the law. If any state or federal law or regulation governing this type of sensitive information restricts us from using or sharing your information in any manner otherwise permitted under this Notice, we will follow the more restrictive law or regulation.
If one of the preceding reasons does not apply, we must get your written authorization to use or disclose your health information. If you give us written authorization and change your mind, you may revoke your written authorization to release your health information. We cannot guarantee that the person to whom the information is provided will not re-disclose the information.
The authorization form describes the purpose for which the information is to be used, the time period during which the authorization form will be in effect, and your right to revoke authorization at any time. The authorization form must be completed and signed by you or your duly authorized representative and returned to us before we will disclose any of your protected health information. You can obtain a copy of this form by calling the Customer Service phone number on the back of your ID card.
The following are your rights with respect to the privacy of your health information. If you would like to exercise any of the following rights, please contact us by calling the telephone number shown on the back of your ID card.
- You have the right to ask us to restrict how we use or disclose your information for treatment, payment or health care operations. You also have the right to ask us to restrict information that we have been asked to give to family members or to others who are involved in your health care or payment for your health care. Please note that while we will try to honor your request, we are not required to agree to these restrictions.
- You have the right to ask to receive confidential communications of information if you believe that you would be endangered if we send your information to your current mailing address (for example, in situations involving domestic disputes or violence). If you are a minor and have received health care services based on your own consent or in certain other circumstances, you also may have the right to request to receive confidential communications in certain circumstances, if permitted by state law. You can ask us to send the information to an alternative address or by alternative means, such as by fax. We may require that your request be in writing and you specify the alternative means or location, as well as the reason for your request. We will accommodate reasonable requests. Please be aware that the explanation of benefit statement (s) that the Plan issues to the contract holder or certificate holder may contain sufficient information to reveal that you obtained health care for which the Plan paid, even though you have asked that we communicate with you about your health care in confidence.
- You have the right to inspect and obtain a copy of information that we maintain about you in your designated record set. A “designated record set” is the group of records used by or for us to make benefit decisions about you. This can include enrollment, payment, claims, and case or medical management records. We may require that your request be in writing. We may charge a fee for copying information or preparing a summary or explanation of the information and in certain situations, we may deny your request to inspect or obtain a copy of your information.
- You have the right to ask us to amend information we maintain about you in your designated record set. We may require that your request be in writing and that you provide a reason for your request. We may deny your request for an amendment if we did not create the information that you want amended and the originator remains available or for certain reasons, if we deny your request, you may file a written statement in disagreement.