Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information. Final Privacy Rule Preamble.. Costs to State and Local Governments


The rule will also have a cost effect on various state and local agencies that administer programs requiring the use of individually identifiable health information. State and local agencies or programs clearly affected by the rule are those that meet the definition of a covered entity. The costs when government entities are serving as providers are included in the total cost estimates. However, non-covered agencies or programs that handle individually identifiable health information, either under permissible exceptions to the disclosure rules or through an individual's expressed authorization, will likely incur some costs complying with provisions of this rule. Samples of state and local agencies or programs encompassed by the broad scope of this rule include: Medicaid, State Children's Health Insurance Programs, county hospitals, state mental health facilities, state or local nursing facilities, local health clinics, and public health surveillance activities, among others. We have included state and local costs in the estimation of total costs in this section.

The greatest cost and administrative burden on the state and local government will fall to agencies and programs that act as covered entities, by virtue of being either a health plan or provider, such as Medicaid, State Children's Health Insurance Programs, and county hospitals. These and other health insurance or provider programs operated by state and local government are subject to requirements placed on covered entities under this rule, including, but not limited to, those outlined in this section (Section E) of the impact analysis. Many of these state and local programs already afford privacy protections for individually identifiable health information through the Privacy Act. For example, state governments often become subject to Privacy Act requirements when they contract with the federal government. This rule is expected to create additional requirements beyond those covered by the Privacy Act. Furthermore, we anticipate that most state and local health programs will, to some extent, need to modify their existing Privacy Act practices to fully comply with this rule. The cost to state and local programs that function as health plans will be different than the private sector, much as the federal costs vary from private health plans.

A preliminary analysis suggests that state and local government costs will be on the order of $460 million in 2003 and $2.4 billion over ten years. We assume that the proportion of the privacy regulation's total cost accruing to state and local governments in a given year will be equivalent to the proportion of projected state and local costs as a percentage of national health expenditures for that year. To estimate these proportions, we used the Health Care Financing Administration's November 1998 National Health Expenditure projections of state and local health expenditures as a percent of national health expenditures from 2003 through 2008, trended forward to 2012. Based on this approach, we assume that over the entire 2003 to 2012 period, 13.6 percent, or $2.4 billion, of the privacy regulation's total cost will accrue to state and local governments. Of the $2.4 billion state and local government cost, 19 percent will be incurred in the regulation's first year (2003). In each of the out-years (2004-2012), the average percent of the total cost incurred will be about nine percent per year. These state and local government costs are included in the total cost estimates discussed in the regulatory impact analysis.