On August 21, 1996, President Bill Clinton gave his official signature making the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (often known as HIPAA) a law. Initially, the goal was to increase productivity in the healthcare industry by simplifying healthcare administration and assuring that workers would continue to have health insurance coverage even while they were between jobs.
Since HIPAA was passed into law, further legislation has been proposed to safeguard the confidentiality of patient medical records and guarantee that healthcare companies have proper security protocols to prevent unauthorized access to such records.
This law was included in HIPAA as part of the Privacy and Security Rules; nowadays, the Privacy and Security Rules are HIPAA’s most well-known provisions. For more information, visit defensorum.com.
Patients are directly affected by four important parts of HIPAA, which are listed below. They are the patient’s right to control their healthcare data, the privacy of their health records, the security of their health records, and notifications of breaches in their healthcare data.
- Protection of Patient Information:
The HIPAA Privacy Rule imposes constraints on how healthcare information may be used and disclosed. Patients’ medical records can only be accessed by those who have been granted permission to do so, and the only acceptable uses for these records are in the context of the delivery of medical care, the processing of payments for medical services, and the management of healthcare organizations (essential business purposes).
For all of the reasons above, “Protected Health Information” (PHI) of patients may be used by HIPAA-covered organizations, such as healthcare providers, health plans, and healthcare clearinghouses, without obtaining the patients’ consent.
Although there are exceptions as mentioned in defensorum.com, in general, it is not permissible to use or share a patient’s healthcare data for any reason other than those specified above, such as for research or marketing, unless prior consent is obtained from the patient.
In addition, HIPAA protects business partners, often known as vendors, who provide goods or services to HIPAA-covered businesses and need access to protected health information (PHI). A transcription service provider, a mailing vendor, a payment processor, a lawyer, and an information technology service provider are all examples of business partners.
Any protected health information (PHI) disclosed to a business associate is limited to the minimum required information for that business associate to carry out its contractual obligations. Business associates are also required to comply with certain aspects of the HIPAA Rules.
- Simplifying HIPAA’s Administrative Requirements:
The clause relating to simplifying administrative processes is essential to the HIPAA rule. It addresses the standard standards for ensuring the security and privacy of electronic healthcare transactions and processing such transactions. The HHS was in charge of drafting and publishing the HIPAA regulations, which address how the Administrative Simplification mandate should be carried out and enforced. These are important HIPAA regulations, which include the following:
Rule of Privacy:
The Privacy Rule is the rule that controls how protected health information may be used and disclosed (PHI)
The rule for Data Security:
The Security Rule mandates the establishment of administrative, physical, and technical safeguards to maintain the confidentiality of protected health information (PHI).
Rule Regarding Transactions and Code Sets:
The HIPAA regulation established a new administrative simplification rule that compels all healthcare institutions to standardize healthcare transactions. This rule is part of the HIPAA’s Transactions and Code Set Rule.
Rule Concerning the Use of Unique Identifiers:
HIPAA’s Rule Regarding the Use of Unique Identifiers stipulates that healthcare providers must have standard national numbers known as the National Provider Identifier (NPI). This number is a one-of-a-kind identification number that identifies them when they engage in standard transactions.
Enforcement and Breach Notification Rules:
The HIPAA enforcement rules provide standards for enforcing the Administrative Simplification Rules and the necessity to follow the notification rule if there is a breach of protected health information (PHI).
The adoption of these standards will make the industry’s healthcare services more efficient and effective, which will, in turn, benefits patients. The HIPAA Compliance Standards must be adhered to by all healthcare organizations included in the HIPAA Compliance scope of coverage.
- The Revenue Offset That Controls the Tax Deductions That Employers Can Take:
This section contains restrictions for business-owned life insurance, such as a prohibition on the tax-deductible deductibility of interest on life insurance loans, company endowments, or corporate contracts relating to the firm.
In addition, it repeals the financial institution regulation regarding interest allocation rules.
This section also covers the changes to laws that relate to individuals who gave up their permanent residence or US citizenship, the applicability of tax termination to the ones who gave up their US citizenship for tax causes, and the creation of a Quarterly Publication of Individuals Who Have Chosen to Expatriate to make a non-names citizen’s a part of the public record.
- Identifiers Rule:
Covered companies that engage in HIPAA-regulated administrative and financial operations are assigned one of three distinct identities under the HIPAA Privacy Rule. These identifiers are the National Provider Identifier (NPI), which is a 10-digit number used for covered healthcare suppliers in every HIPAA financial and administrative transaction; the National Health Plan Identifier (NHI), which is an identifier used to classify health plans as well as payers under the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS); and the Standard Unique Employer Identifier, which recognizes and employer entity in the HIPAA transactions and is considered to be the same as an employer identification number (EIN).
Rule Exceptions Regarding Privacy and Security Under HIPAA:
Although the HIPAA Rules apply to most healthcare providers – specifically, those who handle healthcare transactions electronically – they do not apply to every single entity involved in the healthcare business.
The creators of health apps stand out as a significant exception. Many health applications collect information that, if gathered by a healthcare professional, would be considered protected health information (PHI).
However, because these app developers are only considered to be business associates if they develop an app specifically for a HIPAA-covered entity, likely, users of the apps will not be protected by HIPAA, nor will the health data that is entered into, collected, stored, or transmitted by the apps be subject to the HIPAA Rules. Many people who care about privacy are working to make changes in this particular area.
Following the rules and guidelines defined in HIPAA helps covered entities identify their roles and duties regarding electronic health information transmission safety. These rules and standards are established in HIPAA. These principles and standards are regarded as a good practice for maintaining the security and privacy of ePHI both while it is kept and while it is being transferred from one location to another.
The five HIPAA components discussed before to serve as the primary support structure for HIPAA compliance. Based on this information, covered organizations have the opportunity to construct an efficient privacy and security system for the e-PHI data and the IT infrastructure, which is an essential component of the process of PHI data handling.