HIPAA and Your Rights as a Drug Rehab Patient

HIPAA or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 was passed by the US congress under the Clinton administration. The Act is designed to provide various protections for health care consumers, including the guarantee of certain rights and the safeguarding of personal information and data. While HIPAA covers nearly all Americans, there are special considerations for people who enter alcohol or drug treatment programs regarding confidentiality. The concerns and others are addressed by HIPAA.

There are two main segments of HIPAA: the first deals with consumer’s rights to obtain and maintain insurance, and the other helps to battle fraud, protect privacy and other administrative functions. (1) These are known as Titles:

Title I provides protections for workers who lose their jobs or change jobs while covered by a group plan. Instead of losing their coverage, insurance is extended until the plan at the subsequent job takes effect. This is important for people who lose or give up their jobs when they attend drug treatment so that they can stay insured while being treated.

This title also reduces the amount of restrictions that insurance companies can place on their plans in regard to pre-existing conditions. For drug addicts or alcoholics that have relapsed numerous times, this often means that they can get coverage for addiction even if they’ve been an active user or received treatment in the past.


Title II governs the administrative and privacy protection aspects of HIPAA. All health care workers with access to sensitive or protected information must be trained by their employer in the handling of this data according to HIPAA. Protected health information is held in the strictest confidence except where required by law or court order.

Safeguarding sensitive personal and medical information is of critical importance for people who undergo drug rehabilitation or alcohol treatment, as many people with substance abuse problems go through rehab with the intention of returning to the places they work and live. HIPAA provides for stiff penalties for violation of the Privacy Rule, most notably fines of up to $1,500,000 and for criminal breaches as much as ten years in prison. (2)

As a drug rehab patient you have a right to privacy and to be treated using approved, evidence based practices. Because addiction is an intense disease to recover from, the last thing a rehab patient should be concerned with is the protection of their personal information. HIPAA automatically provides this protection and serious deterrents for those who would violate it.

If you or someone you love is considering going to rehab but is apprehensive about confidentiality and security issues, call the number at the top of your screen now for an immediate, confidential consultation. We can answer any questions you might have about HIPAA, or anything you’d like to know about why we’re considered one of the leading drug rehab centers in America. Don’t waste any more time – call us now.

(1) Wikipedia Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act
Accessed 07/24/2012

(2) US Department of Health and Human Services Summary of the HIPAA Privacy Rule
Accessed 07/24/2012

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Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff, American Addiction Centers
The editorial staff of Recovery First is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed thousands... Read More