Patient’s Guide to HIPAA – Learning About HIPAA: Who is a Patient?





You are reading the Patient’s Guide to HIPAA, FAQ 5

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FAQ 5: Who is a Patient?

Interestingly, HIPAA does not use the term patient. Not everyone who is the subject of a health record is a patient. For example, you may be the beneficiary of a health insurance policy. The insurer has information about you, but you are not the insurer’s patient. Even if that information is only your name, address, and plan number, it is protected health information (PHI) under HIPAA. The HIPAA rule addresses this problem by using the term individual, but we find that term a bit jarring. We use the more familiar term patient here because just about everyone is a patient eventually. HIPAA’s individual and our patient are identical. (For more about what we mean by the term protected health information, see FAQ 8.)



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