Personal Assistance Service (PAS) | 2200 West Main Street | Erwin Square Tower | 4th Floor, Suite 400A | Durham, NC 27705 | 919-416-1PAS (919-416-1727)

Notice of Privacy Practices - Duke University Health Plan

Effective Date: April 14, 2003
Revised September 20, 2013

Assistance with this information is available upon request. Please contact the Human Resources Information Center at (919) 684-5600 for additional details.

Asistencia con esta información está disponible por petición. Por favor póngase en contacto con el de Servicio de Recursos Humano al (919) 684-5600 para detalles adicionales.

THIS NOTICE DESCRIBES HOW MEDICAL INFORMATION ABOUT YOU MAY BE USED AND DISCLOSED AND HOW YOU MAY OBTAIN ACCESS TO THIS INFORMATION.

USE AND DISCLOSURE OF HEALTH INFORMATION

The provisions of the Duke University Health Plan ("the Health Plan") are designed to protect the privacy of health information that it creates or receives about you that can identify you, called "protected health information". Protected health information includes information about your past, present or future health, the provision of health care to you, or your past, present, or future payment for the provision of health care. The Health Plan has established policies to protect the privacy of your protected health information. The Health Plan consists of Duke Select, Duke Basic, Duke Options, Blue Care, and Duke Plus medical benefits programs, the Health Care Reimbursement Account program, the Personal Assistance Service (PAS) program and the Employee Assistance Plans.

The Health Plan's privacy practices concerning your protected health information are as follows:

  • The Health Plan will safeguard the privacy of protected health information that it has created or received.
  • The Health Plan will explain how, when and why it may use and/or disclose your protected health information.
  • The Health Plan will only use and/or disclose your protected health information as described in this Notice.

The following categories describe different ways that the Health Plan may use and disclose health information. For each category of uses or disclosure we will explain what we mean and try to give some examples. Not every use or disclosure in a category will be listed. However, all of the ways the Health Plan is permitted to use and disclose information will fall within at least one of the categories.

To Make or Obtain Payment. The Health Plan may use or disclose your health information to make payment to or collect payment from third parties, such as other health plans or providers, for the care you receive. For example, the Health Plan may provide information regarding your coverage or health care treatment to other health plans to coordinate payment of benefits.

To Conduct Health Care Operations. The Health Plan may use or disclose health information for its own operations to facilitate the administration of the Health Plan and as necessary to provide coverage and services to all of the Health Plan's participants. We are not allowed to use genetic information to decide whether we will give you coverage and the price of that coverage. Health Care Operations includes such activities as:

  • Quality assessment and improvement activities.
  • Activities designed to improve health or reduce health care costs.
  • Clinical guideline and protocol development, case management and care coordination, and utilization review.
  • Contacting health care providers and participants with information about treatment alternatives and other related functions.
  • Health care professional competence or qualifications review and performance evaluation.
  • Accreditation, certification, licensing or credentialing activities.
  • Underwriting, premium rating or related functions to create, renew or replace health insurance or health benefits.
  • Review and auditing, including compliance reviews, medical reviews, legal services and compliance programs.
  • Business planning and development including cost management and planning related analyses and formulary development.
  • Business management and general administrative activities of the Health Plan, including customer service and resolution of internal grievances.

For Treatment Alternatives. The Health Plan may use or disclose your health information to tell you about or recommend possible treatment options or alternatives that may be of interest to you.

For Distribution of Health-Related Benefits and Services. The Health Plan may use or disclose your health information to provide to you information on health-related benefits and services that may be of interest to you.

For Disclosure to the Plan Sponsor. The Health Plan may disclose your health information to the Plan Sponsor for Plan Administration functions performed by the Plan Sponsor on behalf of the Health Plan. In addition, the Health Plan may provide health information to the Plan Sponsor so that the Plan Sponsor may solicit premium bids from health insurers or modify, amend or terminate the plan. The Health Plan also may disclose to the Plan Sponsor information on whether you are participating in the health plan.

SPECIAL SITUATIONS

The Health Plan may use and/or disclose protected health information about you for a number of circumstances in which you do not have to consent, give authorization or otherwise have an opportunity to agree or object. Those circumstances include:

When Legally Required. The Health Plan will disclose your health information when it is required to do so by any federal, state or local law.

To Conduct Health Oversight Activities. The Health Plan may disclose your health information to a health oversight agency for authorized activities including audits, civil administrative or criminal investigations, inspections, licensure or disciplinary action. The Health Plan, however, may not disclose your health information if you are the subject of an investigation and the investigation does not arise out of or is not directly related to your receipt of health care or public benefits.

Research. We use and disclose PHI in connection with research performed by faculty members of Duke University, as well as researchers outside the institution. This research is subject to the oversight of the Duke University Institutional Review Board. In most cases, while PHI may be used to help prepare a research project or to contact you to ask whether you want to participate in a study, it will not be further disclosed for research without your authorization. Sometimes, however, where permitted under federal law and institutional policy, and approved by an Institutional Review Board or a privacy board, PHI may be used or disclosed. In addition, PHI may be used or disclosed to compile "limited or de-identified data sets" that do not include your name, address, social security number or other direct identifiers. These data sets may, in turn, be used for research purposes.

In Connection with Judicial and Administrative Proceedings. As permitted or required by law, the Health Plan may disclose your health information in the course of any judicial or administrative proceeding in response to an order of a court or administrative tribunal as expressly authorized by such order or in response to a subpoena, discovery request or other lawful process, but only when the Health Plan makes reasonable efforts to either notify you about the request or to obtain an order protecting your health information.

For Law Enforcement Purposes. As permitted or required by state law, the Health Plan may disclose your health information to a law enforcement official for certain law enforcement purposes, including, but not limited to, if the Health Plan has a suspicion that your death was the result of criminal conduct or in an emergency to report a crime.

Lawsuits and Disputes. If you are involved in a lawsuit or a dispute, we may disclose your health information in response to a court or administrative order. We may also disclose your health information in response to a subpoena, discovery request or other lawful process by someone else involved in the dispute.

In the Event of a Serious Threat to Health or Safety. The Health Plan may, consistent with applicable law, disclose your health information if the Health Plan, in good faith, believes that such disclosure is necessary to prevent or lessen a serious and imminent threat to your health or safety or to the health and safety of the public.

For Specified Government Functions. In certain circumstances, federal regulations require the Health Plan to use or disclose your health information to facilitate specified government functions related to the military and veterans, national security and intelligence activities, protective services for the president and others, and correctional institutions and inmates.

To Respond to Organ and Tissue Donation Requests and work with a medical examiner or funeral director.

For Workers' Compensation. The Health Plan may release your health information to the extent necessary to comply with laws related to workers' compensation or similar programs.

AUTHORIZATION TO USE OR DISCLOSE HEALTH INFORMATION

Other than as stated above, the Health Plan will not disclose your health information other than with your written permission. In addition, we will not use your PHI for marketing and fundraising purposes without your permission. We will not sell your PHI without your permission. If you authorize the Health Plan to use or disclose your health information, you may revoke that permission in writing at any time. If you revoke your permission, the Health Plan will no longer use or disclose your health information for the reasons covered by your written authorization. The Health Plan is unable to take back any disclosures it has already made with your permission.

North Carolina Law. In the event that North Carolina Law requires the Health Plan to give more protection to your health information than stated in this notice or as required by Federal Law, the Health Plan will give that additional protection to your health information.

YOUR RIGHTS WITH RESPECT TO YOUR HEALTH INFORMATION

You have the following rights regarding your health information that the Health Plan maintains:

Right to Request Restrictions. You may request restrictions on certain uses and disclosures of your health information. You have the right to request a limit on the Health Plan's disclosure of your health information to someone involved in the payment of your care. However, the Health Plan is not required to agree to your request. If you wish to make a request for restrictions, please call (919) 684-5600 for the appropriate request form.

Right to Request Alternative Ways of Communications. You have the right to request that the Health Plan communicate with you in a certain way if you feel the disclosure of your health information could endanger you. For example, you may ask that the Health Plan only communicate with you at a certain telephone number or by email. If you wish to receive confidential communications, please call (919) 684-5600 for the appropriate request form. The Health Plan will attempt to honor your reasonable requests for confidential communications, but when appropriate, may condition the accommodation on your providing the Health Plan with information regarding your alternative address or other method of contact.

Right to Inspect and Copy Your Health Information. You have the right to inspect and copy your health information. To inspect and copy your health information, please call (919) 684-5600 for the appropriate request form. If you request a copy of your health information, the Health Plan may charge a reasonable fee for copying, assembling costs and postage, if applicable, associated with your request.

Right to Amend Your Health Information. If you believe that your health information records are inaccurate or incomplete, you may request that the Health Plan amend the records. That request may be made as long as the information is maintained by the Health Plan. To request an amendment to your health information, please call (919) 684-5600 for the appropriate form. The Health Plan may deny the request if it does not include a reason to support the amendment. The request also may be denied if your health information records were not created by the Health Plan, if the health information you are requesting to amend is not part of the Health Plan's records, if the health information you wish to amend falls within an exception to the health information you are permitted to inspect and copy, or if the Health Plan determines the records containing your health information are accurate and complete.

Right to an Accounting. You have the right to request a list of certain disclosures of your health information that the Health Plan is required to keep a record of under the Privacy Rule, such as disclosures for public purposes authorized by law or disclosures that are not in accordance with the Plan's privacy policies and applicable law. To request an accounting of disclosure, contact (919) 684-5600 for the appropriate form. The request should specify the time period for which you are requesting the information, but may not start earlier than April 14, 2003. Accounting requests may not be made for periods of time going back more than six (6) years. The Health Plan will provide the first accounting you request during any 12-month period without charge. Subsequent accounting requests may be subject to a reasonable cost-based fee. The Health Plan will inform you in advance of the fee, if applicable.

Right to a Paper Copy of this Notice. You have a right to request and receive a paper copy of this Notice at any time, even if you have received this Notice previously or agreed to receive the Notice electronically. You may also obtain a copy of this Notice at any time from our website at www.hr.duke.edu or by calling (919) 684-5600 and requesting a paper copy.

Right to Choose Someone to Act for You. If you have given someone medical power of attorney or if someone is your legal guardian, that person can exercise your rights and make choices about your health information. We will verify that the person has this authority and can act for you before we take any action.

Right to File a Complaint if you Feel Your Rights Have Been Violated. You can complain if you feel we have violated your rights by contacting us using the information listed for the privacy official. In addition, you can file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights by sending a letter to 200 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20201. Calling 1-877-696-6775, or visiting this website. We will not retaliate against you for filing a complaint.

DUTIES OF THE HEALTH PLAN

The Health Plan is required by law to maintain the privacy of your health information as set forth in this Notice and to provide to you this Notice of its duties and privacy practices. The Health Plan is required to abide by the terms of this Notice, which may be amended from time to time, and to promptly notify you if a breach occurs that may have compromised the privacy or security of your information. The Health Plan reserves the right to change the terms of this Notice and to make the new Notice provisions effective for all health information that it maintains. If Health Plan changes its policies and procedures, the Health Plan will revise the Notice and will provide a copy of the revised Notice to you within 60 days of the change. You have the right to express complaints to the Health Plan and to the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services if you believe that your privacy rights have been violated. Any complaints to the Health Plan should be made in writing to the Health Plan's Privacy Official. The Health Plan encourages you to express any concerns you may have regarding the privacy of your information. You will not be retaliated against in any way for filing a complaint.

CONTACT PERSON

If you have any questions regarding this Notice or if you believe your privacy rights have been violated or you wish to file a complaint about the Health Plan's privacy practices, you may contact:

Privacy Official
Duke University
Benefits Administration
705 Broad St.
Durham, NC 27705
(919) 684-5600