The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was enacted by Congress during 1996 and signed into law by President Bill Clinton.
This piece of legislation, HIPAA, is thought of now as one of the most important laws in America. It was initially designed to address the issue of health insurance coverage for people who were between jobs. Without HIPAA, individuals who found themselves in these circumstances would be left without health insurance, and possibly not able to pay for critical healthcare.
HIPAA is now more widely known for more modern reasons: the evolution of data privacy and data security in the healthcare sector. HIPAA Rules introduced major changes to how organisations may save, handle and use sensitive patient data. HIPAA legislation covers healthcare groups, health plans, healthcare clearinghouses, and business associates of HIPAA-covered outfits.
The significance of HIPAA for patients in the healthcare system cannot be stated enough. The legislation has introduced clear and strict regulations regarding the management, storage, handling and securing of protected health information (PHI). PHI includes sensitive information such as names, addresses, credit card information, social security numbers, and specifics of medical procedures and conditions. PHI has a massive black market value due to its potential use in identity theft. HIPAA’s Privacy Rule ensures that HIPAA-covered entities must take measures to secure sensitive personal and health information. Furthermore, the Privacy Rule also allows individuals access to their healthcare information when they ask for it.
HIPAA introduced sweeping new changes to data protection requirements, forcing organisations to implement many layers of safeguards on patient data. HIPAA’s enforcers can levy fines against organisations who breach HIPAA laws.
Outfits governed by HIPAA rules must control who can access patient data. HIPAA-compliant organisations must ensure that only authorised individuals may access patient health information, and that information may only be sent to other authorised individuals. HIPAA ensures that stringent controls are placed on any information disclosed to healthcare providers and health plans. Similarly, any information that is developed, transmitted, or stored by HIPAA CEs is tightly policed.
HIPAA allocates patients rights over their data, such as the authority to say with whom their information may be shared. HIPAA’s Privacy Rule allows patients to ask for and obtain copies of their healthcare information. Patients that can access their healthcare information have more autonomy and control over their health treatment. If a patient opts to change healthcare provider, they can transfer the data themselves without additional levels of bureaucracy. HIPAA makes provision for the patient to achieve a more smooth transition, improving their healthcare experience.
HIPAA has altered the way in which healthcare workers operate. For example, HIPAA’s Rules have introduced measures to enhance efficiency in administrative duties. These measures included assisting covered outfits of all sizes in the transition from paper records to electronic copies of health information, and ensuring that the safeguards placed on these were of an acceptable standard across the sector.
HIPAA is constantly evolving, so whether one is pro-HIPAA or against it, it is impossible to understate its position as one of the most important laws in America.