On August 21, 1996, Congress passed the Health and Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, better known as HIPAA.
HIPAA is the United States Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. There are two sections to the Act. HIPAA Title I deals with protecting health insurance coverage for people who lose or change jobs. HIPAA Title II includes an administrative simplification section which deals with the standardization of healthcare-related information systems. In the information technology industries, this section is what most people mean when they refer to HIPAA. HIPAA establishes mandatory regulations that require extensive changes to the way that health providers conduct business.
HIPAA seeks to establish standardized mechanisms for electronic data interchange ( EDI ), security, and confidentiality of all healthcare-related data. The Act mandates: standardized formats for all patient health, administrative, and financial data; unique identifiers (ID numbers) for each healthcare entity, including individuals, employers, health plans and health care providers; and security mechanisms to ensure confidentiality and data integrity for any information that identifies an individual.
There are two sections in HIPAA:
The first, Title I, provides protections for the health insurance coverage of people who lose or change jobs. HIPAA made changes to three areas in the continuation coverage rules applicable to group health plans under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 -- or COBRA -- each of which are described more extensively by the US Department of Labor at DOL.gov.
Title II is where organizations feel the impact of HIPAA on IT operations. It includes a section that deals with the standardization of healthcare-related information systems for electronic data interchange . These mandatory regulations all required extensive changes to the way that health providers conduct business.
Compliance with HIPAA is administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which publishes requirements and sets deadlines for organizations to comply. HHS provides up-to-date information about HIPAA at HHS.gov.
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