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


The final rule requires entities to designate a privacy official who will be responsible for the development and implementation of privacy policies and procedures. In this cost analysis, the Department has estimated each of the primary administrative requirements of the rule (e.g., training, policy and procedure development, etc), including the development and implementation costs associated with each specific requirement. These activities will certainly involve the privacy official to some degree; thus, some costs for the privacy official, particularly in the initial years, are subsumed in other cost requirements. Nonetheless, we anticipate that there will be additional ongoing responsibilities that the privacy official will have to address, such as coordinating between departments, evaluating procedures and assuring compliance. To avoid double-counting, the cost calculated in this section is only for the ongoing, operational functions of a privacy official (e.g., clarifying procedures for staff) that are in addition to items discussed in other sections of this impact analysis.

The Department assumes the privacy official role will be an additional responsibility given to an existing employee in the covered entity, such as an office manager in a small entity or a compliance official in a larger institution. Moreover, today any covered entity that handles individually identifiable health information has one or more people with responsibility for handling and protecting the confidentiality of such information. As a result of the specific requirement for a privacy official, the Department assumes covered entities will centralize this function, but the overall effort is not likely to increase significantly. Specifically, the Department has assumed non-hospital providers will need to devote, on average, an additional 30 minutes per week of an official's time (i.e., 26 hours per year) to compliance with the final regulation for the first two years and 15 minutes per week for the remaining eight years (i.e., 13 hours per year). For hospitals and health plans, which are more likely to have a greater diversity of activities involving privacy issues, we have assumed three hours per week for the first two years (i.e., 156 hours per year), and 1.5 hours per week for the remaining eight years (i.e., 78 hours per year).

For non-hospital providers, the time was calculated at a wage of $34.13 per hour, which is the average wage for managers of medicine and health according to the CPS. For hospitals, we used a wage of $79.44, which is the rate for senior planning officers. 48 For health plans, the Department assumed a wage of $88.42 based on the wage for top claims executives. 49 Although individual hospitals and health plans may not necessarily select their planning officers or claims executives to be their privacy officials, we believe they will be of comparable responsibility, and therefore comparable pay, in larger institutions.

The initial year cost for privacy officials will be $723 million; the ten-year cost will be $5.9 billion.