Making HIPAA compliance easier; When testing, first, do no harm; A round of applause from the medical transcriptionists; An expensive way to dodge taxes
"Breaking through the HIPAA Hype" [Sept. 9] is the most concise description I've seen of what needs to be done to meet HIPAA standards. Our small billing practice sent copies of this article to the providers we serve as a last minute reminder to apply for the one-year extension. I also purchased the AMA manual you recommended, "Field Guide to HIPAA Implementation." It is an excellent compliance resource.
I'd like to clarify the pricing strategy on our HIPAA compliance products mentioned in your article. Our company, HIPAAdocs, licenses access to our Web site and its services on an annual basis, with the cost determined by the size of the organization and the number of people needing training. We offer a 60 percent discount (not 50 percent as stated in your article) from the first year's price when you sign up for another year.
When our patients observe our passion for the newest technology, they sadly conclude that more testing is betteror at least can't do any harm. Internist Richard L. Sribnick shows us otherwise: false negatives and positives haunt even the newest testing technology ["Tracy should still have her gallbladder," Aug. 23].
We need to educate our patients about the uncertainty of test results and explain that sometimes more testing can be dangerous. Perhaps this understanding will defuse their desire for "whole-body-everything" scans and other expensive tests. It will also save them from a course of endless testing to confirm that the troubling "nothing to worry about" revealed by the first unnecessary test was in fact just that.
Wayne S. Strouse, MD
Penn Yan, NY
Congratulations to Senior Editor Robert Lowes for his excellent article about improving dictation, "How to be a supreme dictator," [Sept. 9]. It is a big hit with us medical transcriptionists and has been a topic of discussion at our online chat forum, MT Desk. Sure hope a lot of docs see this article and heed his advice.
While your explanation of how to avoid paying tax on disability benefits was correct, I don't think it was the best advice ["Money Management Q&A," Aug. 23].
You say that you should pay for the insurance yourself or have your employer include in your income the prorated amount of the premium he pays for your coverage under the group disability policy. But here's the problem. Only a very small percentage of physicians ever collect disability benefits. So few, that it's hardly worth paying years of insurance premiums just to avoid the risk of owing income tax someday. Moreover, even if you do become disabled, you might find yourself in a lower tax bracket where your benefits would not be taxed at all.
Roy W. Huntsman, CHBC
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Letters to the Editors.
Dec. 9, 2002;79:10.