Healthcare providers are required by law to protect the information they collect regarding patients' health care. The U.S. Congress enacted the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, (HIPAA) to address a variety of issues related to health care.
There are two parts to HIPAA:
- The first part protects health insurance coverage for workers and their families when they change or lose their jobs.
- The second part, known as Administrative Simplification, includes provisions for the privacy and security of health information. It requires the establishment of national standards for electronic health care transactions and national identifiers for providers, health insurance plans, and employers. In addition, it requires unique identifiers for providers.
What is Protected Health Information (PHI) under the Act?
- Name, address and social security number
- Past present or future health conditions
- How health care is provided
- Payment history
Covered entities are required to have compliance policies and procedures. Medical records must be stored in a separate location from business and personnel records. Documents should be updated to comply with the security rules. Employers also need to comply with state privacy laws.
Notice must be given to all patients at their first visit regarding their rights under HIPAA, including the right to access their information and the right to complain if they feel their rights have been violated. The covered entity should obtain written acknowledgement that the patient has received notice of their privacy policies.
It is important for covered entities and their employees to be aware of their responsibilities.
It is also important for patients to know their rights and responsibilities.
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