Do Health Records Influence Employment?
We all need to work so that we can provide for our basic needs. Regardless if we have a physical impairment that might restrict us from accomplishing some day to day tasks, everyone needs to make the dough somehow. And for people with disabilities, that can truly be a challenge.
In 1990, President George H.W. Bush passed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This is a civil rights law that ensures that no one can be discriminated against on the basis of their disability. These cover the physical and the psychological, as well as health conditions that are not as apparent, like cancer, diabetes, and autoimmune disease. The ADA also concerns itself with employment.
A person with a hearing disability, for example, cannot be denied a job that mostly involves manual labor. As long as the applicant has the right qualifications for the tasks and the employer does not need to go to unreasonable lengths to accommodate him or her as an employee, it is illegal to reject the applicant because of an existing disability. Due to the ADA, your health records cannot bar you from getting hired to do a job.
We also have the right to privacy. The ADA prohibits everyone including current employers from asking about disabilities especially if such information is preferred to be kept confidential. But just the same, there will be crafty employers who might look for other ways of obtaining this kind of information. And for that reason, we must exercise prudence in keeping our own health conditions safe. Nobody likes it when their private matters become the topic of conversation in the workplace.
Another law that concerns our wellbeing is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). In a nutshell, this law was created to ensure that everybody retains access to available health insurance, but it also goes as far as protecting people’s medical records from falling into the wrong hands. With the HIPAA, your personal data cannot be freely given away by health practitioners without first getting your consent.
Suffice to say, there are not a lot of legal means for third parties to obtain your private health information. Mistakes might more likely pave the way for other people to find out things that we might like to keep secret. One day, you might send your boss the wrong text message that was intended to go to your doctor. With that in mind, you need to be aware that there is such a thing as HIPAA secure messaging. Text messaging might be one of the most convenient modes of communication but what a lot of people do not consider is the safety of text messages while they are in transit. Just as you can send a message to the wrong receiver, you can also lose your mobile phone any day, and this makes your information vulnerable.
There are many ways in which the government can protect our rights from those who seek to abuse it. But a lot of these involve getting information out in the open, like choosing to reveal a disability during a job interview. For many people, privacy is more important, and with that desire for discretion, we must also exercise the responsibility to protect our own.