Several years ago, we visited the question of your health information’s security and its availability to those interested in breaking into the system.  Your private data was ripe for the picking to all hackers- a veritable wet dream!  (See

Now it seems that these fears have come to fruition.  As seen in “Vital Signs,”Modern Healthcare, 6/13),  according to HHS, one in every 10 Americans or 31.7 million people have been affected by health data  breaches!

 “wall of shame” website (iHealthBeat, 4/1).

This online site reveals breaches to health information affecting greater than 500 people, with greater than one thousand medical record breaches- and these are the ones reported.

Federal reporting of HIPAA breaches was mandated in 2009 to HHS and they have been tracking them since then.

Since 2009, HHS has received:

  • 1,026 reports of breaches involving 500 or more individuals; and
  • More than 116,000 breach reports involving records of fewer than 500 individuals through March 1, 2013.

Meanwhile, more than 32,600 HIPAA complaint cases have been investigated, with more than 22,500 of them closing with corrective action, according to HHS Office for Civil Rights spokesperson Rachel Seeger (“Vital Signs,” Modern Healthcare, 6/13)

Privacy Penalties on the Rise

The Hill reports. that Jerome Meites,  HHS Chief Regional Civil Rights Counsel, expects penalties under HIPAA to increase drastically in the next year.  He stated:

“I suspect that that number will be low compared [with] what’s coming up” (Viebeck, The Hill, 6/13). The coming year is likely to witness especially aggressive punishment of privacy breaches and security lapses under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

He  told attendees at the American Bar ASsociation conference in Chicago that the last 12 months of enforcement will “likely pale in comparison to the next 12 months.

Since June 2013, HHS has received more than $10 million for HIPAA violations, according toLaw360.

What are your thoughts on this?  Share your views in the comment box below.