HIPAA or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on August 21, 1996. Most healthcare insurance companies and providers are to adhere to the HIPAA regulation guidelines by October 2002 and October 2003 for smaller health plans. The HIPAA law is a multi-step approach that is geared to improve the health insurance system. One approach of the HIPAA regulations is to protect privacy. This is in Title IV which defines rules for protection of patient information. All healthcare providers, health organizations, and government health plans that use, store, maintain, or transmit patient health care information are required to comply with the privacy regulations of the HIPAA law. Excluded are certain small, self-administered health organizations.
How do I Make Sure My Healthcare Provider is Taking Steps to Comply with the HIPAA Regulations?
Some health care providers have taken steps such as controlling access to offices with medical files by electronic key card systems and only allowing employees limited access to the minimum amount of information needed. In addition, the use of special services to make electronic transactions secure is also being used by many medical facilities and insurance providers. If you have concerns about what your health care provider or physician is doing to comply with the HIPAA law, ask them what steps they have taken to ensure your privacy and if they are taking more prevention measures in the future. If your health insurance is from a small, self-administered health organization, they may not have to comply to the HIPAA regulations. It is important to check with them to see if they are complying to the HIPAA regulations, and if not, what steps are they taking on their own to ensure your privacy.
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