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Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

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What is Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)?

HIPAA is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. This is a federal law that must be followed correctly by every hospital, medical clinic or dental office which stores sensitive information about their patients. The purpose behind this act is to keep patient records secure and confidential while they are in storage. HIPAA also mandates the proper destruction of patient records once they no longer need to be kept on file.

HIPAA offers security and privacy of personal health information, including but not restricted to health insurance plans, electronic healthcare transactions, and personal identifiers.

Who is subject to HIPAA Compliance?

HIPAA is a federal act and therefore essentially every hospital, medical clinic or dental office that circulates and/or maintains sensitive patient records is subject to this law. All health care providers and institutions, plus any business associates, are required to establish and follow strict procedures that guarantee the privacy and security of protected health information (PHI) when it is transferred, received, handled, or shared. This includes all forms of PHI, such as documents, oral conversations, and electronic information. Furthermore, it’s crucial that only health information that’s completely required to perform business duties is used or shared.

What are my Rights Under HIPAA?

As a patient, you have the right to assume that your medical and other health data is kept confidential, and you should also be notified as to who has access to this data. The Privacy Rule, which is also a Federal law, supplies you with particular rights over your health information and creates rules and restrictions on exactly who can see and receive your private health information.

The Privacy Rule states that HIPAA covered entities provide individuals with access to their protected health information (PHI) in one or more “designated record sets” that is currently in the hands of a healthcare provider if requested. This means you have the ability to review or take a copy of the specific file or have a copy of the PHI transmitted to a person of choice. As a patient, you have permission to access your PHI for the length in which it’s maintained at your health care institution. Individuals have a right to access this PHI for as long as the information is maintained by a covered entity. This remains true regardless of the date the information was collected or created, and whether or not the data is in paper or electronic format. This is a given right; the only drawback of this law is that healthcare entities are welcome to charge for this service if they would like to.

Who does HIPAA Protect?

HIPAA creates a national standard and exists to secure individuals’ medical records and other personal health information from exposure.

Why is HIPAA Important?

HIPAA allows you to instruct who may represent you on your behalf should there be an emergency or accident that prevents you from communicating on your own. This is essential for your safety and can be an individual or you request several people to speak for you in these situations. HIPAA was created to protect patient privacy. All healthcare institutions need to have a compliance department so that if you are worried about a particular compliance problem or breach of data, be sure to contact this department to resolve the issue immediately.

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Where can I find more information about HIPAA?

To learn more, visit this link: https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-individuals/guidance-materials-for-consumers/

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