A health insurance issuer or HMO does not become a business associate simply by providing health insurance or health coverage to a group health plan. The relationship between the group health plan and the health insurance issuer or HMO is defined by the Privacy Rule as an organized health care arrangement (OHCA), with respect to the individuals they jointly serve or have served. Thus, these covered entities are permitted to share protected health information that relates to the joint health care activities of the OHCA. However, where a group health plan contracts with a health insurance issuer or HMO to perform functions or activities or to provide services that are in addition to or not directly related to the joint activity of providing insurance, the health insurance issuer or HMO may be a business associate with respect to those additional functions, activities, or services.
Date Created: 12/19/2002