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 (HHS) 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.
What does it mean?
HIPAA is a set of rules to be followed by doctors, hospitals and other health care providers. HIPAA took effect on April 14, 2003. HIPAA helps ensure that all medical records, medical billing, and patient accounts meet certain consistent standards with regard to documentation, handling and privacy.
In addition, HIPAA requires that all patients be able access their own medical records, correct errors or omissions, and be informed how personal information is shared used. Other provisions involve notification of privacy procedures to the patient. HIPAA provisions that have led in many cases to extensive overhauling with regard to medical records and billing systems.
What are the main objectives of HIPAA?
1. Accountability. HIPAA hopefully will reduce waste, fraud, and abuse. New penalties will be imposed.
2. Insurance Reform. HIPAA offers continuity and portability of health insurance, as well as providing limits on pre-existing provisions.
3. Administrative simplification. HIPAA mandates standards on electronic data transactions in a confidential and secure manner.
Who must comply with HIPAA?
Any healthcare provider that electronically stores, processes or transmits medical records, medical claims, remittances, or certifications must comply with HIPAA regulations. HIPAA does not require a practice to purchase a computer-based system as it applies only to electronic medical transactions.
What is the difference between HIPAA-ready and HIPPA-compliant?
HIPAA-ready typically refers to software products used by healthcare providers, insurance companies and clearing houses that comply with HIPAA guidelines. HIPAA-compliant refers to the doctors, hospitals and insurance companies themselves that are in compliance with HIPAA regulations.
Does HIPAA specify how compliance is to be achieved?
No. HIPAA regulations give health-care organizations the decision to decide how they will implement HIPAA compliance, and are technology and software-neutral.