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Can covered entities distribute their notices as part of other mailings or distributions?


Yes. The HIPAA Privacy Rule provides covered entities with discretion in this area; no special or separate mailings or distributions are required to satisfy the Privacy Rule’s notice distribution requirements. Thus, a health plan distributing its notice through the mail, in accordance with 45 CFR 164.520(c)(1), may do so as part of another mailing to the individual (e.g., by including the notice with Summary Plan Descriptions).

Similarly, a covered entity that e-mails its notice to an individual, in accordance with 45 CFR 164.520(c)(3), may include additional materials in the e-mail. No separate e-mail is required. However, the Privacy Rule continues to prohibit covered entities from combining the notice in a single document with an authorization form (see 45 CFR 164.508(b)(3)); and direct treatment providers, other than in emergency situations, must provide the notice at or before the date of first service delivery, and must make a good faith effort to obtain the individual’s written acknowledgment of receipt of the notice.

Date Created: 12/20/2002
Last Updated: 03/14/2006