What is HIPAA?

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act(HIPAA) is a policy which secures the privacy of an individual’s health information, establishes guidelines for the appropriate disclosure of an individual’s health information and provides the individual with an opportunity to get proper health care insurance coverage. HIPAA is connected to the USA.

HIPAA was first introduced in 1996 but it became fully established in 2003.

Purpose/Function of HIPAA

  1. HIPAA monitors and sets guidelines for the appropriate use and disclosure of an individual’s health information between insurance institutions, health-care providers, pharmacies, employers and patients.
  2. HIPAA liaisons with other health organizations, such as the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and permit them to create their own procedures which protect the use and disclosure of individual’s health information.
  3. HIPAA can also facilitate the process of a person getting health insurance coverage if he or she changes from one job or company to the other.
  4. When a person changes his job and goes to another company, the health insurance coverage of the new company might prove difficult to attain. The new company may not issue the health insurance coverage because the new employee’s status or rather his health needs is classified as “pre-existing conditions”. When someone is classified with “pre-existing conditions”, it simply puts the insurance personnel on the defense against paying large sums of money for an individual’s health problems. In order to lower or avoid the financial expense of health insurance, the new company can either pay less and the individual pays a higher premium for their health insurance coverage or the new company pays nothing at all for the new employee’s health insurance coverage. HIPAA’s role then endeavors to make health insurance coverage transferable. If an individual is coming from a previous company in which he or she was paying for health insurance coverage, everything will be carried over and continued as usual excepting for different health insurance coverage from a particular company. Overall, the individual would still be entitled to full and quality health insurance coverage in their new place of employment.

HIPAA Privacy Rules

The HIPAA privacy rules guides patients about the best use and or disclosure of their health information. HIPAA provides guidelines for covered entities, such as health-care providers or health-care institutions, about the use and or disclosure of an individual’s health information. HIPAA ascertains the national guidelines or standards for health care providers to observe. HIPAA protects individuals’ personal health information and lessens the risks of their health information being disclosed for the wrong reasons. HIPAA investigates situations that breach the privacy of individuals’ personal health information and it also sanctions the violators with penalties for breaching or exploiting an individual’s privacy on their health information. On the other hand, HIPAA has the authority of revealing an individual’s personal health information without the individual’s permission so as to meet the individual’s health care needs and other humanitarian interest such as for the public’s benefit and overall, for national interest.

An individual may be required to sign a HIPAA form when he or she visits a doctor or a pharmacy. On this form, one is required to state who you want to review your personal health care information.

Additional Reading on HIPAA

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