January 26, 2017
Event Sponsor: McBrayer
Employment Best Practices
"HIPAA and other Health Care Landmines for Employers"
Lisa English Hinkle
Key points from Lisa's session:
- While HIPAA generally does not apply to employers, employers often gain access to and must maintain private health information of employees that must be afforded confidentiality and protection. Because of the content, health information is much more valuable than credit card information on the black market. HIPAA establishes best practices even if not directly applicable to certain industries. The ADA, GINA, HIPAA and EEOC rules all affect employers and pose complex regulatory frameworks for dealing with employee's private health information.
- Commitment to corporate compliance through a baseline audit, development of compliance plan, appointment of a compliance officer, and establishment of an anonymous reporting mechanism are critical steps to reducing risk of violations of the laws, fines and penalties, and employee lawsuits. Corporate compliance should be made a part of every employee handbook and employee evaluation.
- Ransomware attacks are the 21st century's highway robbery crime with more than 4000 daily attacks documented by authorities. Compliance with HIPAA may be an effective tool to combat ransomware attacks on information systems. Employees should be knowledgeable about cyberattacks and educated about how to prevent and maintain confidentiality.
- Wellness programs will prove to be an effective and important tool for employers to promote healthy lifestyles, prevent disease, and manage chronic problems through lifestyle adjustments. Payment of incentives now has regulatory approval, which provides clarity for employers who offer wellness programs. With new rules for ADA and GINA compliance recently published, wellness programs must be reasonably designed to promote health or prevent disease rather than shifting cost to employees based upon their health.
- The Americans with Disabilities Act interprets "disability" broadly and applies to those with behavioral health disabilities as well.
- With the proposed repeal of the Affordable Care Act, the new administration will likely make major regulatory changes that will affect employers' responsibilities for providing health insurance. There is much to come!