What is HIPAA

Let us discuss first of all “What is HIPAA?” HIPPA means the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, a law enacted in 1996 by the US Congress, to improve both the efficiency and effectiveness of the health care system. The act included a series of “administrative simplification” provisions that made Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandatory to adopt national standards for electronic health care transactions. Mean while the Congress included addressing the need for a standard health identifier for various health care providers and other health care systems in the administrative simplification of HIPAA.

Thus HIPAA requires the adoption of a standard unique health identifier, as stated by the Congress, for health care providers. Later the Secretary has to specify the purpose for which the identifier may be used. It concluded that all the health care providers, that is eligible to receive National Provider Identifiers (NPI), need not necessarily abide with the HIPAA, other than the provided identifier.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) were made responsible for enforcing the electronic transactions and code sets provisions of the law by the Secretary. As per the website of CMS, Title I of HIPAA declares the protection of the health insurance coverage for the workers as well as their families in case if they lose or change their jobs. While Title II states the administrative simplification provisions requires the establishment of health insurance plans, the national standards for electronic health care transactions, and national identifiers for providers and employers.

The administrative simplification provisions also specify the privacy and security of the health data in the electronic health care transactions. The various standards put forward are mainly for the effectiveness of the health care system of the nation through the usage of electronic data interchange in health care.

On April 14, 2003, the privacy provision of HIPAA came into existence, which provided the individuals the accessibility to their medical record and can enquire for detailed explanations of the usage of their personal information. This also gave no permission in using the protected health information (PHI) for marketing and the individuals has the freedom to complain to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) if there is any violation of the privacy provision. Later the security provisions which came in 2005 complements the previous privacy provision. Here it offers administrative, physical and technical safeguards.

The main disadvantage is that the act didn’t do much to make the health insurance more portable. For example, if an individual change the job or employer there is no such facility for preserving the access to health care. More over, the act also didn’t show a significant increase in the number of health insurance holders. The issue guidance and technical assistance on the transactions and code sets provisions and compliance, will be provided by the department itself.