Having your medical information kept private and secure is a basic human right. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was signed into law in 1996. It holds healthcare providers accountable for keeping their patient's medical information secure (written or electronic). Even with HIPAA in place there are still things that you should be doing to make sure your medical information remains private. Detailed below are three important ways you can protect your valuable information.

Don't Overshare
While healthcare professionals and offices are bound by the HIPAA laws, sharing your medical information with others can put you at risk. Make sure you check that an office follows HIPAA before disclosing any information. Be cautious of giving information over the phone. If it is your doctor's office or a trusted entity on the phone, try to be in a private place before disclosing your birth date or any other information over the phone to avoid eavesdroppers. Another important point to remember is not to share information on the internet. Sharing information on the internet can be viewed by virtually anyone and is the opposite of protected.

Shred or Save
It is critically important to be cautious of what information you have in your home and how you dispose of sensitive information. If you have paperwork that you need to keep, have a secure filing system in your home. Keeping sensitive paperwork in a safe or in a locked drawer are both options. Another great option is investing in a scanner that can scan your documents and save them on your computer. Shredding paperwork before throwing it away will prevent anyone from coming across your information. Keeping a current copy of your own medical record including history or medications is very important. Even if your doctor keeps everything electronic or uses a health data archiver, you always have a right to request your records. Safeguarding the information that you keep in your home is one more step to protecting your information.

Beware of Scams
There are many different scams that attempt to gather sensitive information or your insurance information. One of these scams is someone offering free medical services. Often people will take your information in return for free items or services. This is typically a scam and the individual wants to abuse your information or abuse some type of government program that they are billing to gain the free items. Fraud should always be reported. You can report to your insurance or to Medicare or Medicaid.

While laws are in place for professionals to keep your information safe, it is important to take personal steps to safeguard your information. Being cautious about sharing your information with others or on the internet, carefully disposing or saving paperwork and blowing the whistle on fraud are all ways to keep your information safe and secure.

Author's Bio: 

Meghan Belnap is a freelance writer who enjoys spending time with her family. She loves being in the outdoors and exploring new opportunities whenever they arise. Meghan finds happiness in researching new topics that help to expand her horizons.