University of Vermont

Privacy Services

University of Vermont

HIPAA Information


What is HIPAA?
HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. This act passed by Congress in 1996 is an expansive set of rules that includes establishment of national standards for electronic health care transactions and national identifiers for providers, health insurance plans, an employers.

What organizations must comply with HIPAA?
Covered entities must comply with HIPAA rules.  Under HIPAA, health care providers that transmit health information in electronic form for treatment, payment or operations purposes, health care clearinghouses, and health plans are considered covered entities.

Is UVM considered a covered entity under HIPAA?
The University is considered a "hybrid entity" for HIPAA compliance purposes. This means that only certain identified components of the University are subject to the HIPAA Privacy rules. The University is able to designate some components that are medical components or group health plans that are separate and distinct from non-medical components.  Only those components that the University has identified as medical components or group health plans are subject to the privacy requirements of HIPAA.

What components has UVM identified as covered?
The University has identified the following components as subject to the HIPAA Privacy Rule:

As health care providers:
  • Eleanor M. Luse Center for Communication: Speech, Language and Hearing
Employee Group Health Plans

University departments that have signed Business Associate Agreements with other entities are subject to the use and disclosure provisions of the Privacy Rule.

What is the Privacy Rule?
The HIPAA Privacy Rule establishes regulations for the use and disclosure or Protected Health Information (PHI)

What is Protected Health Information (PHI)?
PHI is any information about the health status, provision of health care, or payment for healthcare that can be linked to an individual.  This is interpreted to include any part of a patient's medical record or payment history.

How can PHI be used by UVM's covered components?
The covered components identified by UVM may disclose PHI to facilitate treatment, payment or health care operations, or for other purposes if authorized to do so by the individual.  These components must make an effort when disclosing PHI in accordance with the rule to disclose the minimum amount necessary to achieve its purpose.

What is UVM's Privacy Notice?
The covered components of UVM provide a notice of privacy to individuals for whom they provide health care or who participate in the identified group health plans.

Privacy Notice examples:

Group health plans - Privacy Notice

These notices describe how medical information may be used and disclosed by these components of UVM and the rights of the individual regarding their information including access.

What is the difference between FERPA and HIPAA?
FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) governs the privacy of student records including UVM student health information.  As a result, the HIPAA Privacy Rule governs UVM's medical  treatment of non-students.

What about Medical Research?
Researchers that work with Private Health Information (PHI) are required to follow the Privacy Rule of the organization that owns the PHI.  Since College of Medicine physicians that provide health care services do so as Fletcher Allen Health Care (FAHC) physicians, FAHC is the covered entity for HIPAA purposes for research using its PHI.  The College of Medicine, FAHC and the Institutional Review Board that oversees research involving human subjects have defined policies and procedures governing use of PHI for research purposes. See the College of Medicine's HIPAA information page for further information.  A copy of the FAHC Privacy Notice is available here.

Who can I contact regarding the HIPAA privacy rule?
You may contact the relevant  Coordinator at the provider of service:

HIPAA Coordinator - UVM Benefit Plans (802)-656-3433

HIPAA Coordinator - UVM Luse Center (802)-656-3861

Last modified May 15 2014 11:04 AM

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