Hippa stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. In short, it is known as Hipaa. The Act came into effect in 2016 to safeguard the confidential medical information of patients.
The key medical information includes patients’ medical history, discussions between the medical professional and the patient.
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When and why was Hiaaa introduced?
President Bill Clinton signed Hipaa into law on August 21, 2016. The 104th US Congress enacted Hipaa with one primary goal: to remove fraudulent and abusive practices in the healthcare industry. The other objectives of introducing Hipaa are given below:
- Encourage opening and maintaining medical savings accounts.
- Simplify the health insurance administration process.
- Increase portability and continuity of group and individual health insurance coverage.
- To enhance access to long-term health care services.
What is the other name of Hipaa?
The other name of Hipaa is Kennedy Kassebaum Act. There is a valid reason behind it.
Republican Senator Nancy Kassebaum and Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy introduced the Kennedy-Kassebaum bill initially in Congress. Later, President Bill Clinton signed this into law.
How does Hipaa safeguard people and the healthcare industry?
Hipaa changed the healthcare industry for the better. It has also provided safety and security to the workers too.
One of the provisions of Hipaa is the continuity of health insurance coverage for the employees even after switching jobs.
One of the provisions of Hipaa specifies the establishment of national standards for electronic healthcare transactions. Plus, the Act also calls for establishing national identifiers for health insurance plans, providers, and employers.
The safety and security of medical records are also a matter of grave concern. Hipaa calls for administrative simplification. The provision of the Hipaa instructs the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to set standards on the national level for electronic healthcare transactions, unique health identifiers, security, and so on.
What about the confidentiality of healthcare information?
The rules and regulations of Hipaa are quite strict. The law mandates that the medical information of patients will remain private. And this is applicable even for patients between the age of 12 years and 18 years. The health care provider cannot disclose patients’ medical information without their prior consent. If the health care provider wants to reveal the patient’s medical information to a third-party, it must get a signed disclosure from the patient first. The health care provider has to obtain written permission before giving any information to the patient’s parents. The law is so strict.
Healthcare providers, business associates, state medicaid agencies, and healthcare clearinghouses fall under the privacy rule of Hipaa. The act also specifies the safety precautions that the healthcare industry has to take to maintain the integrity of privacy and the accessibility of the information stored in the electronically protected health information.
The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Office of Civil Rights imposed the safety precautions protocol after observing that several health care providers don’t follow the safety precautions to maintain patient confidentiality. As such, they are responsible for monitoring the health care providers and ensuring that they are following the new Hipaa rules.
Is Hipaa applicable to employers too?
Employers fall under the Hipaa guidelines in specific circumstances. Hipaa guidelines specify that employers cannot refuse to give employees health insurance policies due to their poor health conditions.
If employers operate medical clinics or provide medical reimbursement for their employees from their business funds, they must abide by the Hipaa rules.
How about there is one thing that employees need to know. Their employment records do not come under the privacy rule of Hipaa. Even if there is confidential health information in the employment records, the privacy rule does not apply. Still, employees do get some protection. Employers have to take employees’ prior permission to contact their health-related information from their health care provider.
Employers to get some rights under the Hipaa. When the employees are on sick leave, employers can ask to see the doctor’s note. They can also ask for doctors’ notes when employees request workers’ compensation or insurance.
What happens when someone does not follow the Hipaa rules?
If someone is found violating the Hipaa rules, then that can lead to civil lawsuits. Health care providers may have to pay hefty penalties if found guilty.
Groups that do not come under the Hipaa
Few groups do not come under the Hipaa rules and regulations. Law enforcement agencies and life insurance companies do not have to follow the Hipaa guidelines.
State agencies that monitor and regulate social security benefits or other wellness programs do not have to abide by the Hipaa guidelines.
Hipaa flexibilities during Covid-19
Pandemic created an unprecedented situation in the country. Hipaa brought some flexibility owing to this new normal situation. For example, healthcare providers can offer tele health care through social media apps like zoom Skype to Covid-19 positive patients.
Hipaa has also given guidance on how healthcare providers cancer essential patient information with the family members and CDC to combat Covid-19 emergencies.
Hipaa has also issued guidance to empower first responders who get medical information about the Covid-19 positive patients to protect the healthcare professionals and the general public.
If you are planning to work in the healthcare industry, then make sure you take three steps as soon as you can. First, understand the meaning of Hipaa. Second, read the Hipaa laws. Third, get a Hipaa certification. The third step is an essential one. You have to obtain a Hipaa certification before working in the healthcare industry.
Make sure you abide by the Hipaa laws by heart. If you fail to comply with the regulations, then your certificate may get cancelled immediately. The ordinal does not end there. You may have to pay the penalty as high as 1.5 million dollars. In the case of criminal charges, you may even have to go to jail. If you’re working with business associates, sign a business associate agreement to ensure they abide by the people’s rules and guidelines.