By heatherericksonauthor.comThe Erickson Family

Understanding HIPPA


I’m doing double duty this month during the A to Z Blogging Challenge. Here at Facing Cancer with Grace, I will focus on caregiving. I’ll also be doing the challenge at Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker, where I will share ways to increase your creativity. I hope you’ll visit me at both sites. While you’re here, sign up for my email list. Today’s post is H for Understanding HIPPA.

Before you or your loved one ever get to see a doctor before they’ll even bring you back to an appointment room, the receptionist is going to slide a bunch of forms across the desk and ask you to sign. Some of them are forms that record your health history. Among these is a form about who the clinic can talk to about your personal information. This is called HIPPA.

Sign Here Please

HIPPA is the law that protects patient privacy. Unless a patient signs these forms and gives permission for the doctor to tell you anything about the patient’s health, they can’t tell you anything. To understand why your loved one’s doctor’s office may sometimes get a little touchy about this, it’s important to understand HIPPA.

Why HIPPA Matters

Health care providers can’t share a patient’s information with anyone without permission from the patient. Not their insurance company, another health care provider, employer, neighbor, kids or spouse—no one. That’s why they make you sign a bunch of paperwork every year, giving them permission to share information with your insurance company so that your bills can get paid.

If your loved one wants you, as their caregiver, to be able to talk to their doctor about your health care (and they should) they will need to give written permission.HIPPA

What is HIPPA, anyway?

HIPPA is an acronym that stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. HIPPA established a generally accepted set of security standards or requirements for protecting health information which didn’t exist prior to 1996 in the healthcare industry. This became even more important as technology evolved and health care providers moved to computer-based systems.
While computers are an easy and efficient way to document, store and transmit your medical records, those records are also more vulnerable to a breach of privacy. While this was one of the things which drew attention to the importance of privacy in regards to our health care. HIPPA was enacted to protect patients’ healthcare information and privacy in any and all ways that information is shared, whether it be paper, digital, phone, or person to person.

This is a very brief overview of HIPPA. To learn more visit


I’m in the early stages of putting together a resource page for caregivers of cancer patients. I’d love it if you’d check it out and email me any suggestions of resources you’d recommend. While you’re here, sign up for my email list to get a periodic email newsletter to encourage you on your cancer journey.

What are YOUR thoughts?

I’d love to hear in the comment section, below. I appreciate my readers as well as the writing community. To show that appreciation, I use Comment Luv. Just leave a comment below and your latest post will get a link next to it. Thank you!


In 2012 doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan, with stage IV lung cancer. Since then, our family has been learning what it means to face cancer. I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace.

My book Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer, is available on

Also, check out Facing Cancer as a Parent: Helping Your Children Cope with Your Cancer.

Also, put your memories into words with The Memory Maker’s Journal.

I also blog at Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker

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