After the up to date CDC masks steering for folks absolutely vaccinated in opposition to COVID-19, some puzzled if companies can legally ask prospects in the event that they’ve been vaccinated.
The Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention (CDC) on Could 13 updated its guidance regarding mask-wearing for people who find themselves absolutely vaccinated in opposition to COVID-19. Beneath the steering, people who find themselves absolutely vaccinated, that means they’re two weeks faraway from receiving their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines or two weeks faraway from their first shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, don’t need to wear a mask or physically distance in any setting, except it’s required by a federal, state or native regulation. Individuals who aren’t absolutely vaccinated ought to nonetheless put on a masks and bodily distance, in line with CDC steering.
As folks discovered in regards to the CDC’s new advisory, some folks puzzled if companies might start asking prospects in the event that they’re vaccinated. Some folks claimed that would be a violation of the Well being Insurance coverage Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, extra generally referred to as HIPAA.
Is a enterprise asking a buyer about their vaccination standing a violation of HIPAA?
No, most companies wouldn’t violate HIPAA by asking a few buyer’s vaccination standing.
WHAT WE FOUND
The CDC says HIPAA is a federal law “that required the creation of nationwide requirements to guard delicate affected person well being info from being disclosed with out the affected person’s consent or information.”
One of many guidelines created to guard folks’s well being info is the privateness rule, which units requirements for the use and disclosure of individuals’s protected well being info. The privateness rule applies to what are known as “lined entities.”
There are three different categories of lined entities, in line with the U.S. Division of Well being and Human Companies (HHS). One group is well being care suppliers, together with docs, clinics and pharmacies, that electronically transmit well being info in reference to sure transactions, corresponding to claims or profit eligibility inquiries. The second class is well being plans, which embody medical health insurance firms and authorities applications that pay for well being care, corresponding to Medicare and Medicaid. The third is well being care clearinghouses, which HHS says consists of billing providers and repricing firms.
The HIPAA privateness rule additionally applies to enterprise associates, which HHS defines as “an individual or group, aside from a member of a lined entity’s workforce, that performs sure features or actions on behalf of, or gives sure providers to, a lined entity that contain the use or disclosure of individually identifiable well being info.”
HHS says protected well being info below HIPAA consists of info that pertains to an individual’s previous, current or future bodily or psychological well being or situation. HHS has a list of what information is protected on its web site.
Whereas HIPAA guidelines apply to lined entities and particular enterprise associates, the foundations don’t prolong to most companies, in line with Glenn Cohen, a professor at Harvard Regulation College.
“As a result of the typical enterprise will not be a lined entity or a enterprise affiliate of a lined entity inside the that means of HIPAA, the statute doesn’t prohibit them asking them about vaccination standing,” Cohen stated in an e mail to the VERIFY workforce.
Kayte Spector-Bagdady, a lawyer and bioethicist who can be the affiliate director on the College of Michigan’s Heart for Bioethics and Social Sciences in Drugs, stated there’s typically a misunderstanding of what HIPAA does.
“Individuals usually really feel like HIPAA protects them from being requested about their medical info, or prohibits different folks from asking about their medical info,” Spector-Bagdady stated. “Neither is true. HIPAA prohibits well being professionals, corresponding to your physician, from sharing your recognized well being info with out your permission in most circumstances. Individuals can at all times ask about your well being info, and you may virtually at all times decline to reply. However not answering well being questions would possibly come at a value – corresponding to not having the ability to enter your office or board a airplane.”
Extra from VERIFY: Yes, COVID-19 vaccination cards can be faked
Our journalists work to separate reality from fiction so to perceive what’s true and false on-line. Please take into account subscribing to our daily newsletter, text alerts and our YouTube channel. You may as well observe us on Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.