• Glossary
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act

HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act)

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a federal statute that has been accepted as US legislation that provides data privacy and security safeguards for medical information. Cyber attacks on health insurers and providers, including many health data breaches and ransomware attacks, have been used to enforce this Act.

HIPAA, also known as Public Law 104-191, serves two purposes: it provides continuous health insurance coverage for workers who leave or change jobs, and it eventually reduces healthcare costs by bringing administrative and financial transactions under one electronic transmission protocol. Combating misuse, fraud, and waste in health insurance and healthcare delivery are also priorities, as is enhancing access to long-term care services and health insurance.

Understanding Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act

On August 21, 1996, President Bill Clinton gave his signature to the federal act. Except when state law was found to be harsher than HIPAA, HIPAA trumped state laws controlling the confidentiality of medical information. This Act is significant legislation in the healthcare industry in the United States. It is in charge of health information privacy and security. In the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the government department is responsible for developing guidelines for implementation.

In other words, the purpose of this statute is to protect patients' personal information from public access. The purpose of this act is to assist avoid the misuse of patient information. Since its inception, the Act has been revised multiple times. The HIPAA objectives are as follows:

  1. Health information privacy
  2. Electronic record security
  3. Administrative brevity
  4. Transferability of insurance

Components of Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act

The five titles or parts of HIPAA are as follows:

Title I: HIPAA health insurance reform.

Title I safeguards health insurance coverage for those who lose or change jobs. It also prohibits group health plans from denying coverage to anybody with certain diseases or preexisting conditions, as well as imposing lifetime coverage limits.

Title II: HIPAA administrative simplification.

Title II mandates the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to create nationwide electronic healthcare transaction standards. It also requires healthcare organizations to implement secure electronic access to health data and to adhere to HHS privacy regulations.

Title III: HIPAA tax-related health provisions.

Title III contains tax provisions as well as medical care guidelines.

Title IV: Implementation and enforcement of group health plan obligations.

Title IV delves deeper into health-care reform, including protections for persons with pre-existing conditions and those seeking continuous coverage.

Title V: Revenue offsets.

Title V contains regulations on company-owned life insurance as well as the treatment of persons who lose their US citizenship for income tax reasons.

How Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act works

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) ensures that individual health-care plans are accessible, portable, and renewable, as well as establishing the criteria and means for sharing medical data across the United States' health-care system to prevent fraud. State law supersedes federal law (unless the federal regulations are more stringent).

HIPAA has been updated since 1996 to incorporate guidelines for safely storing and sending patient medical information online.

It also includes provisions for administrative simplification, which aim to increase efficiency and reduce administrative costs by establishing national standards.

The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) of 2009 expanded HIPAA privacy and security safeguards. The HITECH Act was included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to encourage the use of health information technology. The HITECH Act addresses privacy and security concerns in part.

Key Takeaways

Medical facilities, health insurance providers, HMOs, and healthcare billing services are all impacted by HIPAA law's regulations on policy, technology, and record-keeping. Also, it is illegal to violate HIPAA best practices and standards.

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