DHHS Levies First Fine for Small Data Breach

MedLaw.com reports on the first payout for a HIPAA violation involving a small data breach:

“The Hospice of North Idaho (HONI) has agreed to pay the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) $50,000 to settle potential violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) Security Rule.  This is the first settlement involving a breach of unprotected electronic protected health information (ePHI) affecting fewer than 500 individuals.”

The breach stemmed from a stolen laptop.

Read the rest:  http://www.medlaw.com/ocr-issues-first-fine-for-small-data-breach/


Cost of an MRI? It Depends…

Walk into your favorite salon or spa and ask what a facial, a haircut, etc. cost and someone will quickly produce that information for you.

Walk into your favorite hospital or doctor’s office and ask what an MRI, a CBC, etc. cost and someone will quickly put you on hold or transfer you to another department.  After considerable time you’ll probably be told that “it depends.”

NBC News recently reported on this issue.  Martha Bebinger attempted to be a savvy healthcare consumer by shopping around for the cost of an MRI.  After much persistence and many phone calls, she got responses that ranged from $600.00 to $5,300.00.  After the scan she received a bill for $7,468.00.  Since she is insured, all she was required to pay was $25.00.  That bill, by the way, did not include the fees charged by the radiologist to interpret the test.

How about a simple lab test – a complete blood count (CBC)?  A web site called Clear Health Costs attempts to collect cost information on various tests.  According to the site a self-pay CBC in the New York area ranges from $16.00 to $117.00 depending on location.  There is also a disclaimer that reminds visitors that if they have health insurance the charges may be considerably different.

Ms. Bebinger’s advice?  “If you really have to pay attention to price because you have a high-deductible or a tiered coverage plan, then do a lot of deep breathing. Be ready for a long journey that will take some patience.”

Another bit of advice – share with your doctor that medical costs are of concern to you.  Sometimes an effective, less costly, “Plan B” can be developed that doesn’t involve so many expensive tests.