Understanding the fundamentals of HIPAA can be a difficult task. Few people even know that HIPAA stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, not HIPPAA. There is only one P, and it has nothing to do with “privacy.” Furthermore, reading the law necessitates deciphering dense legalese, and relying on hearsay can result in more confusion than clarifications.
Hopefully, this article will help you understand a bit more about what HIPAA is, how it came about, and who and what are covered by the law itself.
What Is HIPAA?
The abbreviation HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, which was passed by the United States Congress. The 104th US Congress passed the HIPAA Act on August 21, 1996, and President Bill Clinton signed it. “An Act to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to improve portability and continuity of health insurance coverage in the group and individual markets, to combat waste, fraud, and abuse in health insurance and health care delivery, to promote the use of medical savings accounts, to improve access to long-term care services and coverage, to simplify the administration of health insurance, and for other purposes,” according to the HIPAA Act’s long title.
HIPAA is a federal statute that strives to preserve the privacy of people who need their personal information kept private. The goal is to limit third-party access to people’s private information. Medical records, financial information, Social Security numbers, and birth/death records are examples of sensitive information. Personal information is defined as data that can be used to make decisions about a person or for other commercial objectives. It contains, but is not limited to, names, dates of birth, social security numbers, financial information, and marriage and divorce records. While many companies want to keep confidential information about their employees to prevent identity theft, HIPAA only allows the corporation to do so.
What Does HIPAA Cover?
The privacy of an individual’s health information is the first concern addressed by the HIPAA law. The second step is to ensure that the patient’s medical records and personally identifiable information, such as name, address, and phone number, are properly utilized and protected. Furthermore, the third issue addressed by the HIPAA laws is ensuring that business persons are safeguarded from illegal access to their patient records. In short, those who handle private health care information and personal health information must comply with this regulation.
According to HIPAA regulations, every healthcare facility must have an electronic data processing system for administrative purposes and any technology to save patients’ data. This includes a plan for reviewing and updating the facility’s security requirements and physical security measures regularly. Installing and configuring various approaches to allow the administration and technical components of the business to link seamlessly is the next phase for the technical portion of the system. A patient database management system, electronic billing and remittance processing equipment, and other technological hardware and software that will allow access across secure networks are all examples of this. Setting up these systems necessitates a significant time and financial effort for each entity engaged.
Finally, for the sake of the business, the company’s physical security must be maintained at all times. All workers entering patient information must have the patient’s, doctor’s, and business’s legal representatives’ express permission. Different levels of protection, such as access control, physical access to all information, and an alert system in place should any unauthorized staff enter the patient’s information, must be implemented for the business’s physical security.
In the end, HIPAA serves two essential functions. First, there are rules and regulations that apply to firms and individuals working in the healthcare industry in terms of privacy and security. However, it also paved the way for a slew of companies to offer HIPAA-certified goods and services to help healthcare workers comply with the rule. These businesses have created software and services to aid in the management of healthcare data. Today, these regulations and services are both deeply intertwined with many healthcare systems and protect the health and safety of healthcare workers and those needing healthcare services.
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