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The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act Privacy Rule and Patient Access to Medical Records

This PPI Issue Paper, written by Beth Tossell, Emily Stewart, and Janlori Goldman of the Health Privacy Project, describes the provisions of the Privacy Rule of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) which grants patients access to their medical records. It also provides an overview of the ability of health care providers and health plans to share patient information electronically. This study finds that while the Privacy Rule grants Americans important rights, translating a legal right into practice can be difficult. Patients are ill-informed about the rights afforded them under the Privacy Rule and the lack of any significant public education effort to inform consumers about their rights has dampened the effect of the law. (36 pages)

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