CONFIDENTIALITY, INSURANCE, HIPPA
Confidentiality and privacy issues are a cornerstone of psychotherapy. I am professionally and personally bound to keep your information confidential and private, except as proscribed by law. All health care professionals may be obligated to reveal some your personal information by your insurance company’s policies which you agree to when you use their insurance, or by your instructions. Insurance companies and other third-party payers usually request information regarding services to clients, type of services, dates/times of services, diagnosis, treatment plan, description of the problem, progress in treatment, case notes and/or summaries. More information about all of this will be provided at our first meeting, or as soon as possible, and discussed whenever necessary.
Insurance coverage will depend on your plan benefits. We can discuss this in greater detail on the telephone or during our first meeting. I do not participate in insurance managed care plans as an in-network provider. The procedures covered and the amount that your insurance coverage reimburses varies with each insurance plan. You will need to call your insurer to determine if they will pay for services from psychologists not in their managed care network. This is called an out-of-network benefit plan and if that is your type of insurance, it would cover some percentage of the cost of my services. Again, you can check on this by contacting your insurance company. I will assist you with all necessary billing information and with your consent, complete forms insurers may require. I do not accept Medicare.
Below is the standard HIPPA form that all health care providers are required to ask clients to read:
New York State Notice
Notice of Psychologists’ Policies and Practices to Protect the Privacy of Your Health Information
THIS NOTICE DESCRIBES HOW PSYCHOLOGICAL AND MEDICAL INFORMATION ABOUT YOU MAY BE USED AND DISCLOSED AND HOW YOU CAN GET ACCESS TO THIS INFORMATION. PLEASE REVIEW IT CAREFULLY.
I. Uses and Disclosures for Treatment, Payment, and Health Care Operations
I may use or disclose your protected health information (PHI), for treatment, payment, and health care operations purposes with your consent. To help clarify these terms, here are some definitions:
“PHI” refers to information in your health record that could identify you.
“Treatment, Payment and Health Care Operations”
Treatment is when I provide, coordinate or manage your health care and other services related to your health care. An example of treatment would be when I consult with another health care provider, such as your family physician or another psychologist.
Payment is when I obtain reimbursement for your health-care. Examples of payment are when I disclose your PHI to your health insurer to obtain reimbursement for your health care or to determine eligibility or coverage.
Health Care Operations are activities that relate to the performance and operation of my practice. Examples of health care operations are quality assessment and improvement activities, business-related matters such as audits and administrative services, and case management and care coordination.
“Use” applies only to activities within my [office, clinic, practice group, etc.] such as sharing, employing, applying, utilizing, examining, and analyzing information that identifies you.
“Disclosure” applies to activities outside of my [office, clinic, practice group, etc.], such as releasing, transferring, or providing access to information about you to other parties.
II. Uses and Disclosures Requiring Authorization
I may use or disclose PHI for purposes outside of treatment, payment, and health care operations when your appropriate authorization is obtained. An “authorization” is written permission above and beyond the general consent that permits only specific disclosures. In those instances when I am asked for information for purposes outside of treatment, payment and health care operations, I will obtain an authorization from you before releasing this information. I will also need to obtain an authorization before releasing your psychotherapy notes. “Psychotherapy notes” are notes I have made about our conversation during a private, group, joint, or family counseling session, which I have kept separate from the rest of your medical record. These notes are given a greater degree of protection than PHI.
You may revoke all such authorizations (of PHI or psychotherapy notes) at any time, provided each revocation is in writing. You may not revoke an authorization to the extent that (1) I have relied on that authorization; or (2) if the authorization was obtained as a condition of obtaining insurance coverage, and the law provides the insurer the right to contest the claim under the policy.
III. Uses and Disclosures with Neither Consent nor Authorization
I may use or disclose PHI without your consent or authorization in the following circumstances:
If, in my professional capacity, a child comes before me which I have reasonable cause to suspect is an abused or maltreated child, or I have reasonable cause to suspect a child is abused or maltreated where the parent, guardian, custodian or other person legally responsible for such child comes before me in my professional or official capacity and states from personal knowledge facts, conditions or circumstances which, if correct, would render the child an abused or maltreated child, I must report such abuse or maltreatment to the statewide central register of child abuse and maltreatment, or the local child protective services agency.
If there is an inquiry or complaint about my professional conduct to the New York State Board for Psychology, I must furnish to the New York Commissioner of Education, your confidential mental health records relevant to this inquiry.
Judicial or Administrative Proceedings
If you are involved in a court proceeding and a request is made for information about the professional services that I have provided you and/or the records thereof, such information is privileged under state law, and I must not release this information without your written authorization, or a court order. This privilege does not apply when you are being evaluated for a third party or where the evaluation is court ordered. I must inform you in advance if this is the case.
Serious Threat to Health or Safety
I may disclose your confidential information to protect you or others from a serious threat of harm by you.
If you file a worker’s compensation claim, and I am treating you for the issues involved with that complaint, then I must furnish to the chairman of the Worker’s Compensation Board records which contain information regarding your psychological condition and treatment.
IV. Patient’s Rights and Psychologist’s Duties
Right to Request Restrictions – You have the right to request restrictions on certain uses and disclosures of protected health information about you. However, I am not required to agree to a restriction you request.
Right to Receive Confidential Communications by Alternative Means and at Alternative Locations – You have the right to request and receive confidential communications of PHI by alternative means and at alternative locations. (For example, you may not want a family member to know that you are seeing me. Upon your request, I will send your bills to another address.)
Right to Inspect and Copy – You have the right to inspect or obtain a copy (or both) of PHI and psychotherapy notes in my mental health and billing records used to make decisions about you for as long as the PHI is maintained in the record. I may deny your access to PHI under certain circumstances, but in some cases, you may have this decision reviewed. On your request, I will discuss with you the details of the request and denial process.
Right to Amend – You have the right to request an amendment of PHI for as long as the PHI is maintained in the record. I may deny your request. On your request, I will discuss with you the details of the amendment process.
Right to an Accounting – You generally have the right to receive an accounting of disclosures of PHI for which you have neither provided consent nor authorization (as described in Section III of this Notice). On your request, I will discuss with you the details of the accounting process.
Right to a Paper Copy – You have the right to obtain a paper copy of the notice from me upon request, even if you have agreed to receive the notice electronically.
I am required by law to maintain the privacy of PHI and to provide you with a notice of my legal duties and privacy practices with respect to PHI.
I reserve the right to change the privacy policies and practices described in this notice. Unless I notify you of such changes, however, I am required to abide by the terms currently in effect.
If I revise my policies and procedures, I will post the changes in my waiting room or on my website for one month.
V. Questions and Complaints
If you have questions about this notice, disagree with a decision I make about access to your records, or have other concerns about your privacy rights, it is your obligation to discuss this with me.
If you believe that your privacy rights have been violated and wish to file a complaint with my office, it is your obligation to discuss it with me first and also you may send your written complaint to me at my office, 68 Lambert Lane, New Rochelle, NY 10804.
You may also send a written complaint to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. I can provide you with the appropriate address upon request.
You have specific rights under the Privacy Rule. I will not retaliate against you for exercising your right to file a complaint.
This notice was in effect April 14, 2003.
I will limit the uses or disclosures that I will make as follows: for those in couples, marital or family therapy, I ask everyone to agree not to use any of my records in any court, custody or divorce proceedings. In my view, it is better for the therapy for everyone to feel that they can express themselves without fear that their feelings may be used against them in court. Please refer to our Informed Consent to Psychotherapy form that we reviewed and you signed.
[Note – This restriction, however, may not include a limitation affecting the psychologist’s right to make a use or disclosure that is required by law or, when in good faith, to use or disclose to avert a serious threat to health or safety of a person or the public and such use or disclosure is made to a person or persons reasonably able to prevent or lessen the threat (including the target of the threat)].
I reserve the right to change the terms of this notice and to make the new notice provisions effective for all PHI that I maintain. If the terms change, I will provide you with a revised notice by discussing it with you and posting the changes in the waiting room or website.