What Is HIPAA And What Does It Regulate?

When it was first created, the HIPAA legislation set in stone the standards required to legally secure electronically processed health data, including medical records, for the USA.

It placed on onus on healthcare providers to create a security strategy to protect all personal health information from malicious attempts to obtain it and also set limits on how healthcare data can be used without the stated permission of the data subject.

HIPAA-governed groups were designated as HIPAA bodies and made subject to the data protection legislation. A HIPAA body is any entity that supplies direct health care and shares any personal health information electronically and health insurance companies. If an entity is found to be violating the HIPAA laws then financial penalties can be hugely expensive and can be applied for not adhering to the HIPAA Act or allowing a breach to take place.

The following rights were given to patients under HIPAA:

  • Allowed to overlook their health record and request any amendments which might be necessary to make it 100% accurate.
  • The availability of a copy of their electronic health medical records from the relevant HIPAA body.
  • Command a health care body not to share out medical treatment information with a health insurance supplier.
  • WIthdraw authorization for their medical history to be sold for research and marketing reasons.

There are some access regulations in relation to to all patients to be allowed to inspect, review and obtain their medical and billing history with the following conditions:

  1. Access: It is only permissible for the patient or a stated representative to access the data. If you designate an authorized representative/person to make health care decisions for you using a health care power of attorney. If the death of the patient takes place then the representative will be referred to as the official executor or administrator of the deceased person’s estate.
  2. Non-payment: It is not allowable for a health care provider to use non-payment as a reason to withhold healthcare data from a patient. However, a financial charge may be incurred by the patient in relation to the research conducted, retrieval and document duplication fees.
  3. Exemptions to Access: Some sorts of data are exempt from the HIPAA access rules such as psychotherapy notes. These notes and comments must always be stored away from the patient’s billing and medical record. However, without the patient’s or the patient’s representative’s permission the provider is not allowed, legally, to distribute psychotherapy notes. 
  4. Alterations to Records: Patients can ask for errors in their medical history to be altered if they discover an error. Once the request is submitted the healthcare provider must alter the mistake. If the provider does not believe that a mistake has been made the patient can push and insist that the changes being completed. 

HIPAA legislation sees to it that security measures for patient privacy are current and grants permission for patients to overlook their medical records. Organizations must, legally, create and put in place security measures to limit unauthorized sharing of personal health data. 

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