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The 411 on HIPAA

by Vanessa Valerio, July 15, 2019

It’s no secret that as a patient, you deserve privacy when it comes to your medical records. The government recognizes this as well, which is why HIPAA evolved. HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, was created to mandate healthcare providers to safeguard sensitive information, which affords patients necessary privacy rights.

This comprehensive guide is designed to give you the 411 on HIPAA so you, as a patient, can boost your knowledge of these rights you are afforded when it comes to your health and medical care.


The History of HIPAA

HIPAA was first passed in 1996 to address evolving technology that was being utilized by medical facilities, according to the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. The initial purpose was to create guidelines for electronically transmitting data related to healthcare and health insurance.

However, in 2003, the scope of HIPAA was changed to address patient privacy. At this point, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services added on the following amendments:

  • HIPAA Privacy Rule: This addendum gives individuals the right to privacy, designating how medical facilities and insurance companies can use and disclose protected health information.
  • HIPAA Security Rule: This particular rule set guidelines and standards for how to electronically protect health information of patients.
  • HIPAA Enforcement Rule: Noting the need to enforce privacy and security rights, this rule established the need for compliance, investigation, and penalties for any violations of HIPAA.

Six years later, in 2009, HIPAA was once again revamped because technology was continuously changing how healthcare offices processed information. The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, also known as HITECH, to ensure Title XIII was properly covered, allowing patients and health care professionals to communicate electronically through portals or even email. At this point, electronic processing for pharmaceuticals began. HITECH was ultimately created to encourage the use of electronic medical records; however, the act also worked to establish standards to prevent data breaches and unauthorized access to medical records, according to the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.

In 2013, Health and Human Services issued the HIPAA Omnibus Rule, which issued provisions to all previous amendments to remain compliance with the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008.


The Objectives of HIPAA

HIPAA has significantly changed the way that patients access their information and how pharmacies, insurance companies and healthcare entities handle data. While the 1996 establishment of HIPAA was a start, the later amendments began to address the natural changes taking place in the healthcare industry. The objectives, though, have remained the same.

According to the HIPAA Journal, HIPPA is known best for establishing requirements to protect the privacy of patient data and patients as a whole. This began with the initial privacy rule to restrict how healthcare providers disclosed information. However, HIPPA was also designed to give patients more access to their own medical records and data while addressing technology changes.

Overall, HIPAA is designed to establish efficiency when it comes to managing healthcare and health insurance. A push to digitizing medical records, with safeguards in place to restrict breaches, is necessary as technology evolves.


Establishing Compliance

According to the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, three types of entities are covered and must comply with HIPAA.

  1. Health Care Providers: This includes all areas of health care such as pharmacies, urgent care clinics, dentists, doctors, nursing homes and caregiver agencies, such as Care Indeed.
  1. Health Plan Providers: Commonly known as medical insurance companies, all health plan providers must comply with HIPAA to ensure the safety of medical records and patient data.
  1. Health Care Clearinghouses: Due to the sheer quantity of medical data that needs to be processed, health care clearinghouses are often used to process and disseminate medical data. Therefore, these agencies must comply with HIPAA even though their employees rarely communicate directly with patients.


Safeguarding Patient Data is a Top Priority

It can be confusing to navigate HIPAA as a patient or family member of a patient. That’s why Care Indeed offers not just high-quality caregiving services, but also assistance with processing medical records and health insurance. We believe that patient privacy and compliance with HIPAA is not just a guideline, but an absolute. And, our team ensures that you – or a loved one – has access to your health care reports, assessments and medical records.

It’s important to learn as much about the symptoms and care needed to help support your loved ones as it is to learn about how HIPAA works. Tap into resources from local and national organizations to boost your knowledge of HIPAA and rely on the professionals at Care Indeed to guide you through the process.

Life with any type of illness is challenging; therefore, the last thing you – or your loved one – needs is a struggle to understand your privacy rights.

Care Indeed is committed to providing you the support and in-home caregivers who understand your challenges and daily struggles at work and home. Learn more about how to get the support you need today