Thursday, May 12, 2005

This Door Swings Both Ways

I suppose it was only a matter of time, but from the Grand Rapids Press comes a disturbing report of a health plan provider and an employer using HIPAA to police their attendance policy.

"Delphi Corp. does not want to snoop in its employees' medical records, a spokeswoman said Wednesday. But it can, based on a sweeping new consent form.

Although Delphi said it wants limited access to confirm doctor's visits, the Consent to Release Medical Information form appears to grant much broader powers. It asks employees to choose between authorizing release of all records, all records within a range of dates, or records for a specific illness or injury. "

The United Autoworkers are understandably upset by this, because for the last 20 years workers have been able to document sick leave with a doctor's note. This new consent form appears to grant sweeping access in ways that seem to many to be very invasive.
"Employee angst is understandable, privacy lawyer Norbert Kugele said, but the plan appears legal because HIPAA rules impact a company's dealings with its health plan provider.
"If Delphi is careful in the way they set this up, they can probably do this," Kugele said. "The employer is saying, 'You may not be able to get full sick leave benefits if we can't verify that you are actually sick.' That is not related to the health plan."
This is one that bears close watching. Full story here.

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