Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

What does HIPAA stand for?
At one point or another, most Americans have heard the term “HIPAA” used in conversation or signed a release at a medical facility. But what does it mean? HIPAA is an acronym that stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

 

What is Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)?
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, passed by Congress in 1996, was designed to improve healthcare programs and services by making healthcare more efficient, preventing fraud, minimizing spend, ensuring healthcare provision for patients in between jobs, and protecting patient information. 

When most people hear “HIPAA,” they think of the Privacy Rule. The Privacy Rule enforces the confidentiality of patient information. Additionally, the Privacy Rule makes sure that patients have a say in how their information is used. There are a few “covered entities” that are subject to the Privacy Rule, including:

  • Health care
  • Health plans
  • Healthcare clearinghouses
  • Healthcare providers
  • Business associates
  • Hybrid entities

For the covered entities to be in compliance with HIPAA’s Privacy Rule, they must protect patient health information from any threats, prevent misuse of patient information, maintain patient confidentiality, and enforce compliance. Such information can include, but is not limited to:

  • Patient name
  • Phone numbers
  • Medical records
  • Account numbers
  • Social security numbers
  • Photos
  • Fingerprints
  • Email address
  • Address/location
  • License number
  • Health insurance information

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act is divided into five titles. The titles are as follows:

  • Title I – HIPAA Health Insurance Reform: Title I ensures that workers still receive health insurance coverage when they are in between jobs. 
  • Title II – HIPAA Administrative Simplification: Title II states that the Department of Health and Human Services is to enforce electronic health care transaction standards and identifiers for healthcare plans, healthcare employers, and healthcare providers. This title requires that patient data be secured. 
  • Title III – HIPAA Tax-Related Provisions: Title III allows for medical insurance deductions and changes some of the health insurance laws. 
  • Title IV – Application and Enforcement of Group Health Plan Requirements: Title IV creates a guideline for group health plans. Additionally, this title changes the requirements for continuing healthcare coverage. 
  • Title V – Revenue Offsets: Title V outlines healthcare services for life insurances owned by companies. Additionally, this title explains procedures for people who have lost U.S. citizenship. 

As you can see, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) was created to protect the patient, whether that be by protecting their healthcare coverage, their healthcare information, or their healthcare quality. 

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