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HIPAA and COVID: What’s Covered

November 21, 2021

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It’s official. Companies that operate with 100 employees or more will be required to adopt new regulations regarding COVID-19. OSHA’s emergency standard, which went into action on November 5th, will require companies to offer paid time off for employees recovering from the vaccination. It will also require employees to get the vaccination or take steps at work to prevent the spread of the disease. But how will this interact with the standards found in the HIPAA privacy rule? Here are some important things to consider.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) protects workers from breaches in privacy. Under this act, companies cannot release certain medical information without the employee’s consent. However, the Department of Health and Human Services has clarified some misunderstandings regarding this act and COVID. The most important clarification is that COVID-19 vaccinations are not covered by HIPAA’s privacy rule. Companies are allowed to ask employees whether or not they have been vaccinated. This is because the privacy rule only covers specific entities such as health plans and health care providers. Employees are also allowed to ask companies about the vaccination status of their workers. Similarly, the privacy rule does not apply to this.

With so many changes coming to the workforce, it is easy to get confused about rulings. Temporary standards, such as OSHA’s COVID-19 vaccination emergency standard, are prone to change. This means that companies will need to constantly check for updates and amendments to policies. HIPAA’s standards can also seem intimidating. At Hard Hat Training, we are trying to simplify these standards while still providing all the information that employers will need. For more information on HIPAA, check out our official training here. Also, be sure to check out more trainings at our official site. Good luck and stay safe!

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