A lot can happen in 25 years. And in the case of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 – otherwise known as HIPAA – a lot has happened. During that time, more than 270,000 complaints have been received, 99% resolved, and more than $135,000,000 in reparations collected.
HIPAA Celebrates 25 Years of Growth & Achievement
This month marks the 25th birthday of the HIPAA Act, which was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton on August 21, 1996. Among those likely celebrating this month are the nearly 175,000 major medical centers, hospital chains, small provider offices, and national pharmacy chains that were investigated and by the OCR determined to be not eligible for enforcement.
Why were so many cases dismissed?
Frequently because alleged violations were not covered by HIPAA; the complaint was untimely or withdrawn by the filer; or it was found that no violation was committed, such as cases in which disclosed protected health information as permitted under HIPAA Privacy Rules.
Either way, happy day!
But the celebration doesn't end there. Consider for a moment all the successes that have resulted from the HIPAA act:
• It protects health insurance coverage for those who have changed or lost their jobs by allowing the transfer or prolongments of coverage.
• It provides clarifications to the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA).
• It prevents group health plans from refusing to cover individuals who have pre-existing diseases or conditions.
• It gives patients more control over their health information, including the right to examine and obtain a copy of their own health records and request corrections.
• It provides timelines for patients to get their records from healthcare providers, removing barriers to obtaining their personal health information.
• It sets boundaries on the use and release of health records, including retention timeframes.
• It establishes appropriate physical, administrative, and technical safeguards that healthcare providers and others must achieve to protect the privacy of health information.
• It holds violators accountable with civil and criminal penalties that can be imposed if they violate patients’ privacy rights. It also has protections for those impacted by a breach, including credit monitoring.
• It supports disclosure of some forms of data – for example, to protect public health.
• It enables patients to find out how their information may be used, who has viewed it, and about certain disclosures of their information that have been made.
• It generally limits the release of information to the minimum reasonably needed for the purpose of the disclosure.
• It empowers individuals to control certain uses and disclosures of their health information.
• It established the National Provider Identification (NPI) number.
• It designated the use of electronic data interchange (EDI) when processing or submitting insurance claims.
• It allows for the combatting of fraud., waste, and abuse in health insurance and healthcare delivery
• It sets a standardized per-person amount that can be saved in a Medical Savings Account (MSA).
Even if you are unaware of it, the HIPAA Act and subsequent related acts impact many of our day-to-day health-related, technology, and financial activities. Take a moment to learn more about HIPAA and join InSync in celebrating its 25th birthday!
Put HIPAA-Compliance on Your Shopping Checklist
When shopping for new EHR software, it's worth asking if the system they're trying to sell you is or is not HIPAA-compliant. Some are fully compliant. Some are only partially compliant. Some aren't compliant at all. Anything less than full compliance probably isn't the best investment for your practice.
At InSync Healthcare Solutions, our system is compliant with all applicable HIPAA regulations – from telehealth and patient portals to e-prescriptions and eMAR. Better yet, our EHR software is HIT-ONC certified.
For a closer look at how our interoperable, mobile-friendly and configurable software system can increase efficiencies and workflows in your mental health practice, schedule a demo now with one of our experts. We're happy to answer questions and explain how we can tailor our system to meet your needs in ways that save you time and money.
HHS.gov: Enforcement results as of July 31, 2021