• Privacy Policy

This notice describes how health information about you may be used and disclosed, and how you can get access to this information.

Use and Disclosure of Health information

The City & County of San Francisco Health Service System (the "Health Service System") may use your health information, that is, information that constitutes Protected Health Information (PHI) as defined in the Privacy Rule of the Administrative Simplification provision of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 ("HIPAA"), for purposes of making or obtaining payment for your care and conducting health care operations. The Health Service System has established a policy to guard against unnecessary disclosure of your health information. The following is a sumary of the circumstances under which and purposes for which your health information may be used and disclosed:

To Make or Obtain Payment

The Health Service System may use or disclose your health information to make payment to or collect payment from third parties, such as other health plans or providers, for the care you receive. For example, the City Health Plan may provide information regarding your coverage or health care treatment to other health plans to coordinate payment of benefits.

To Conduct Health Care Operations

The Health Service System may use or disclose health information for its own operations to facilitate administration and as necessary to provide coverage and services to all Health Service System members. Health care operations includes such activities as:

  • Quality assessment and improvement activities.
  • Activities designed to improve health or reduce health care costs.
  • Clinical guidelines and protocol development, case management and care coordination.
  • Contacting health care providers and participants with information about treatment alternatives and other related functions.
  • Health care professional competence or qualifications review and performance evaluation.
  • Accreditation, certification, licensing or credentialing activities.
  • Underwriting, premium rating or related functions to create, renew or replace health insurance or health benefits.
  • Review and auditing, including compliance reviews, medical reviews, legal services and compliance programs.
  • Business planning and development including cost management and planning related analyses and formulary development.
  • Business management and general administrative activities of City Health Plan, including customer service and resolution of internal grievances.

For example, the Health Service System may use your health information to conduct case management, quality improvement and utilization review, and provider credentialing activities or to engage in customer service and grievance resolution activities.

For Treatment Alternatives

The Health Service System may use and disclose your health information to tell you about or recommend possible treatment options or alternatives that may be of interest to you.

For Distribution of Health-Related Benefits and Services

The Health Service System may use or disclose your health information to provide to you information on health-related benefits and services that may be of interest to you.

For Disclosure to the Plan Actuaries.

The Health Service System may provide summary health information to the plan sponsor so that the plan sponsor may solicit premium bids from other health plans or modify, amend or terminate the plan.

When Legally Required

The Health Service System will disclose your health information when it is required to do so by any federal, state or local law.

To Conduct Health Oversight Activities

The Health Service System may disclose your health information to a health oversight agency for authorized activities including audits, civil administrative or criminal investigations, inspections, licensure or disciplinary action. The Health Service System, however, may not disclose your health information if you are the subject of an investigation and the investigation does not arise out of or is not directly related to your receipt of health care or public benefits.

In Connection With Judicial and Administrative Proceedings

As permitted or required by state law, the Health Service System may disclose your health information in the course of any judicial or administrative proceeding in response to an order of a court or administrative tribunal as expressly authorized by such order or in response to a subpoena, discovery request or other lawful process, but only when the Health Service System makes reasonable efforts to either notify you about the request or to obtain an order protecting your health information.

For Law Enforcement Purposes

As permitted or required by state law, the Health Service System may disclose your health information to a law enforcement official for certain law enforcement purposes, including, but not limited to, if the Health Service System has a suspicion that your death was the result of criminal conduct or in an emergency to report a crime.

In the Event of a Serious Threat to Health or Safety

The Health Service System may, consistent with applicable law and ethical standards of conduct, disclose your health information if the Health Service System, in good faith, believes that such disclosure is necessary to prevent or lessen a serious and imminent threat to your health or safety or to the health and safety of the public.

For Specified Government Functions

In certain circumstances, federal regulations may require the Health Service System to use or disclose your health information to facilitate specified government functions related to the military and veterans, national security and intelligence activities, protective services for the president and others, Medicare and other similar entities and correctional institutions and inmates.

For Worker's Compensation

The Health Service System may release your health information to the extent necessary to comply with laws related to worker's compensation or similar programs.

Authorization to Use or Disclose Health Information

Other than as stated above, the Health Service System will not disclose your health information other than with your written authorization. If you authorize the Health Service System to use or disclose your health information, you may revoke that authorization in writing at any time.

Your Rights With Respect To Health Information

You have the following rights regarding your health information that the Health Service System maintains:

Right to Request Restrictions

You may request restrictions on certain uses and disclosures of your health information. You have the right to request a limit on the Health Service System's disclosure of your health information to someone involved in the payment of your care. However, the Health Service System is not required to agree to your request.

Right to Receive Confidential Communications

You have the right to request that the Health Service System communicate with you in a certain way if you feel the disclosure of your health information could endanger you. For example, you may ask that the Health Service System only communicate with you at a certain telephone number or by email. The Health Service System will make every attempt to honor your reasonable requests for confidential communications.

Right to Receive Confidential Communications

You have the right to request that the Health Service System communicate with you in a certain way if you feel the disclosure of your health information could endanger you. For example, you may ask that the Health Service System only communicate with you at a certain telephone number or by email. The Health Service System will make every attempt to honor your reasonable requests for confidential communications.

Right to Inspect and Copy Your Health Information

You have the right to inspect and copy your health information. If you request a copy of your health information, the Health Service System may charge a reasonable fee for copying, assembling costs and postage, if applicable, associated with your request.

Right to Amend Your Health Information

f you believe that your health information records are inaccurate or incomplete, you may request that the Health Service System amend the records. The request may be made as long as the information is maintained by the Health Service System. The Health Service System may deny the request if it does not include a reason to support the amendment. The request also may be denied if your health information records were not created by the Health Service System, if the health information you are requesting to amend is not part of the Health Service System's records, if the health information you wish to amend falls within an exception to the health information you are permitted to inspect and copy or if the Health Service System determines the records containing your health information are accurate and complete.

Right to an Accounting

You have the right to request a list of disclosures of your health information made by the Health Service System for any reason other than for treatment, payment or health operations. The request should specify the time period for which you are requesting the information, but may not start earlier than April 14, 2003. Accounting requests may not be made for periods of time going back more than six (6) years. The Health Service System will provide the first accounting you request during any 12-month period without charge. Subsequent accounting requests may be subject to a reasonable cost-based fee. The Health Service System will inform you in advance of the fee, if applicable.

Right to a Paper Copy of this Notice

You have a right to request and receive a paper copy of this Notice at any time, even if you have received this Notice previously or agreed to receive the Notice electronically.

Duties of the Health Plan

The Health Service System is required by law to maintain the privacy of your health information as set forth in this Notice and to provide to you this Notice of its duties and privacy practices. The Health Service System is required to abide by the terms of this Notice, which may be amended from time to time. The Health Service System reserves the right to change the terms of this Notice and to make the new Notice provisions effective for all health information that it maintains. If the Health Service System changes its policies and procedures, a revised copy of this Notice will be provided to you within 60 days of the change. You have the right to express complaints to the Health Service System and to the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services if you believe that your privacy rights have been violated.

Written Authorizations & Requests

Any written authorization or requests regarding your health information as described above should be directed to:

  • Health Service System
  • 1145 Market Street, Suite 200
  • San Francisco, CA 94103
  • Attn: Privacy Officer

Effective Date

Original Effective Date: April 14, 2003
Revised January 1, 2009

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