Protecting Your Protected Health Information (PHI)

Have you ever felt nervous making a withdrawal from an ATM? Maybe someone was hovering a little too close for comfort. You might have wondered, “Did that person just see me enter my PIN?” 

Many of us have had our purse nabbed or wallet stolen. In the wrong hands, we worry our driver’s license, medical ID card and credit cards will be used to wreak havoc in our lives. And now we have to worry about our identities being stolen online, too.

Stolen identities – and health insurance scams – happen. Luckily, you can keep your protected health information (PHI) in the right hands.

Taking Charge of Your Health

Your PHI is safe when it’s only shared with people you trust.  

PHI includes medical records and other health-related documents that list personal data. They usually include your:

  • Address
  • Birthdate
  • Social Security Number1

If you’re not sure what is and isn’t PHI, ask:

  • Does the document show anything linked to my health condition?
  • Is my name on the document?
  • Can I be identified by anything shown on the document? 
  • Is the account I used to pay for care listed?

Keep in mind, if the document doesn’t relate to your health, it may not be viewed as PHI.

Standard Authorization Form

Using a standard authorization form lets you choose who has access to information about your health conditions and claims. For example, you might allow Blue Cross and Blue Shield to talk with your daughter if she’s helping manage your care. Just keep in mind using the form is your choice. You don’t have to use one if you don’t want anyone to have access to your information. We won’t release your PHI to anyone unless you give us permission to do so.

Explanation of Benefits and Dependents

As a reminder, explanation of benefits (EOB) forms are available on Blue Access for MembersSM (BAMSM). If you cover dependents on your health plan, you don’t need a standard authorization form (SAF) to receive or view their EOB information in BAM’s Claim Center. Only the policy holder can view EOB. This means dependents can’t see their EOB or those of anyone else on the plan through their account. The policy holder can share an EOB with their dependents by printing the EOB from BAM or emailing the EOB to them. If you’d like your dependent to be able to request a paper copy of an EOB for someone else on the plan, you’ll need to submit an SAF.

Be aware of your PHI, and the ways you can help ensure it’s protected and only shared with the people you choose.

Guidance Regarding Methods for De-identification of Protected Health Information in Accordance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule, leaving site icon U.S Department of Health & Human Services, 2022
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