HIPAA is the acronym for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.  HIPPA is a new federal law (Public Law 104 -191) which was enacted in 1996 by the 104th Congress and took effect on April 14, 2003. HIPAA was enacted to improve portability and continuity of health insurance coverage in the group and individual markets, to combat waste, fraud, and abuse in health insurance and health care delivery, to promote the use of medical savings accounts, to improve access to long-term care services and coverage, to simplify the administration of health insurance, and for other purposes. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is responsible for implementing various unrelated provisions of HIPAA, therefore HIPAA may mean different things to different people.

Health Insurance Reform: Title I of the act  protects health insurance coverage for workers and their families when they change or lose their jobs.

Administrative Simplification: Title II of the act  require the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)  to establish the 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.

The Security and Privacy of Health Data:  Privacy Provisions of the Title II of the act apply to health information created or maintained by health care providers who engage in certain electronic transactions, health plans, and health care clearinghouses. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued the regulation," Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information," applicable to entities covered by HIPAA.. The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is the Departmental component responsible for implementing and enforcing the privacy regulation.  


The HIPAA Privacy Rule gives individuals a fundamental new right to be informed of the privacy practices of their health care providers, as well as to be informed of their privacy rights with respect to their personal health care information. All  health care providers are required to develop and distribute a notice that provides a clear explanation of these rights and practices. This NOTICE OF PRIVACY PRACTICES is intended to have individuals focus on  privacy issues and concern, and prompt them to have discussions with their health care providers and exercise their rights.

Learn more about HIPPA

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