As tensions grow across the country over managing the coronavirus pandemic, the healthcare privacy law HIPAA has entered the spotlight, but many people don’t know exactly how HIPAA works. The Onion answers the most common questions people have about HIPAA.
Q: What is HIPAA?
A: The reason you have to sign up for some new website ending in “Portal” every time you go to a different urgent care.
Q: What does it stand for?
A: “Health” is probably in there somewhere.
Q: What was HIPAA designed to protect?
A: Like virtually all American laws, HIPAA’s original goal was to safeguard Americans against theft of their sheep.
Q: When is it okay for someone to ask about my medical history?
A: Never. You shouldn’t even know your medical history.
Q: Does HIPAA cover telehealth?
A: It’s generally safe to assume that anything you use the internet for is basically up for grabs.
Q: So my doctor can’t gossip about my rash?
A: Only if their friends agree to keep it on the down low.
Q: Is my doctor allowed to ask if they just vaccinated me?
A: Yes, although legally you don’t have to tell them that they gave you a shot 30 seconds ago.
Q: Why have so many conservatives invoked HIPAA to declare mask mandates illegal?
A: The assumption that no one else has read the law either.