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What is HIPAA

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Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act

What is HIPAA?

HIPAA is the acronym for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act that was passed by Congress in 1996.  HIPAA does the following:

  • Provides the ability to transfer and continue health insurance coverage for millions of American workers and their families when they change or lose their jobs;
  • Reduces health care fraud and abuse;
  • Mandates industry-wide standards for health care information on electronic billing and other processes; and
  • Requires the protection and confidential handling of protected health information

 HIPAA is organized into separate “Titles”

Title I:  HIPAA Health Insurance Reform

Title I of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) protects health insurance coverage for workers and their families when they change or lose their jobs.

Title II:  HIPAA Administrative Simplification

The Administrative Simplification provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA, Title II) require the Department of Health and Human Services to establish national standards for electronic health care transactions and national identifiers for providers, health plans, and employers. It also addresses the security and privacy of health data. Adopting these standards will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the nation's health care system by encouraging the widespread use of electronic data interchange in health care.

Title III:  HIPAA Tax Related Health Provisions

Title III provides for certain deductions for medical insurance, and makes other changes to health insurance law.

Title IV:  Application and Enforcement of Group Health Plan Requirements

Title IV specifies conditions for group health plans regarding coverage of persons with pre-existing conditions, and modifies continuation of coverage requirements.

Title V:  Revenue Offsets

Title V includes provisions related to company-owned life insurance, treatment of individuals who lose U.S. Citizenship for income tax purposes and repeals the financial institution rule to interest allocation rules.

Protection and Confidential Handling of Health Information

The HIPAA Privacy regulations require health care providers and organizations, as well as their business associates, develop and follow procedures that ensure the confidentiality and security of protected health information (PHI) when it is transferred, received, handled, or shared.  This applies to all forms of PHI, including paper, oral, and electronic, etc.  Furthermore, only the minimum health information necessary to conduct business is to be used or shared.  HIPAA Security addresses the safeguards that must be implemented to protect the data, for example, Electronic Protected Health Information (ePHI) must be encrypted at rest or in motion.


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