HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. It is a U.S. federal law that was enacted in 1996 with the primary goal of protecting the privacy and security of patients’ medical information.
HIPAA has several key components and objectives:
- Privacy Rule: The HIPAA Privacy Rule sets national standards for protecting individuals’ medical records and personal health information (PHI). It restricts the use and disclosure of PHI by healthcare providers, health plans, and other covered entities without patient consent. Patients have the right to access their medical records and request corrections.
- Security Rule: The HIPAA Security Rule complements the Privacy Rule by establishing national standards for the security of electronic protected health information (ePHI). It requires covered entities to implement safeguards to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of ePHI. This includes measures such as access controls, encryption, and regular risk assessments.
- Transactions and Code Sets Rule: This rule establishes standards for electronic transactions between healthcare providers, health plans, and clearinghouses. It ensures that healthcare transactions are conducted using uniform code sets and electronic formats.
- Unique Identifiers Rule: The Unique Identifiers Rule assigns unique identifiers to healthcare providers, employers, health plans, and individuals. This helps in standardizing the identification process in electronic healthcare transactions.
- Enforcement Rule: HIPAA includes provisions for enforcing its rules and regulations. It establishes civil and criminal penalties for violations, with fines that can be significant for non-compliance.