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On Behalf of | Sep 20, 2021 | Human Rights, Personal Interest

Nowadays, social media is obsessed with private information in the wake of vaccination mandates by business for both customers and employees. While exemptions have to be provided, those businesses are given the right to evaluate someone’s application for an exemption, and say no if it can’t be believed as truthful. You can often find a post about “HIPPA” and how to protect your private medical information. But what if all of that was wrong?

HIPAA, not “HIPPA”, is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, protects individual health information from being dispersed, even accidentally, by health care providers. A healthcare provider, such as a clinic, hospital, or specialist office can ask for information they believe is needed, but they can’t share that information with someone else without your permission. This means that you can share your information with anyone, and only a health care provider is obligated to keep it secret under HIPAA. That provider though has to be acting in the capacity as your provider, not your employer. The recent push by health systems in the State of Georgia has been met with backlash, claiming that demanding employees get the vaccination is a violation of HIPAA, but that isn’t the case. The systems are acting within the scope of their role as an employer, and aren’t disbursing data, but rather gathering it.

Technically, you can share your private medical information with anyone, and only a health care provider is obligated to keep it secret under HIPAA. This leads back to the First Amendment protection of free speech and press, and the Fourteenth Amendment protection of the right to enter into contracts free of unreasonable government regulation.

So, when a local store requires proof of vaccination for entry, as long as the store isn’t owned by a government entity or agency, they are entitled to do so. So too can an employer. In fact, any private person, entity, or organization can require something like wearing only red shirts to work. The freedoms we enjoy apply to everyone equally, including private citizens and private companies, include the freedom to contract. Employment and business transactions are all contracts, and the terms are free to evolve as societal expectations too. And in the State of Georgia, employment is a choice, not a protected right. Citizens are not entitled to a job free of certain contract terms, such as vaccination requirements.

Kaitlyn Ruhl-Pirone