Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information. Final Privacy Rule Preamble.. Confidential Communications


The final rule permits individuals to receive communications of protected health information from a covered health care provider or a health plan by an alternative means or at an alternative address. A covered provider and a health plan must accommodate reasonable requests; however, a health plan may require the individual to state that disclosure of such information may endanger the individual. A number of providers and health plans indicated that they currently provide this service for patients who request it. For providers and health plans with electronic records system, maintaining separate addresses for certain information is simple and inexpensive, requiring little or no change in the system. For providers with paper records, the cost may be higher because they will have to manually check records to determine which information must be treated in accordance with such requests. Although some providers currently provide this service, the Department was unable to obtain any reliable estimate of the number of such requests today or the number of providers who perform this service. The cost attributable to this requirement to send materials to alternate addresses does not appear to be significant.