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Important aspects of HIPPA - Essay Example

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Congress. The main aim of HIPAA is to protect workers and families in health insurance coverage when they lose or change their jobs. The act requires employers, health insurance plans, and…
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Important aspects of HIPPA
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College: Introduction HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) was enacted in 1996 by U.S. Congress. The main aim of HIPAA is to protect workers and families in health insurance coverage when they lose or change their jobs. The act requires employers, health insurance plans, and providers to establish national identifiers and standards that allow for electronic transactions on healthcare (Sullivan, American Bar Association, Health Law Section, 2004, p. 83). This study explores HIPAA to demonstrate what the act is all about, how it influences patient’s privacy and to show if it is a detriment or an improvement to the operations of health facilities. HIPAA is one of the complex federal laws that focus on healthcare sector, the act was one of the responses of the Congress to the healthcare reforms and it affects the whole of healthcare industry. The act outlines criminal and civil penalties that arise from failure of compliance by any party in the industry.
Impact on privacy of health information of patients
HIPAA is one of the civil rights laws that give patients the right to control use of their information on health; the other important aspect of HIPAA is that it is mandatory. HIPAA has greatly impacted on the privacy of patient’s health information; the act protects the protected health information of patients whether oral, written or electronic, and defines how patient’s health information can be used defining where and which information can be used and the relevant requirements for such use (Herdman & Moses, 2006, p. 13). Protected Health Information or the PHI refers to any information that is identifying the individual person is considered confidential; such information includes billing information, physician and nursing notes, as well as other treatment records that are about the individual or his present, past or future mental or physical condition.
HIPAA acts as a privacy rule, its privacy regulation scope limits disclosure and use of PHI, it limits who can use or request for a patient’s PHI and provides a criteria that can be used to de-identify information. HIPAA provides administrative requirements and establishes mechanisms like external complaint processes and whistleblower provisions that can be used by patients to report violations. The act has established individual rights over his/her health information as contained by providers, employers or health insurance plans. These rights include individual rights to access, notice, amend, and file complaint as well as right to have confidential communication. From the individual patient’s view, HIPAA is an improvement to health information privacy (Judson & Harrelson, 2010, p. 126). Patients’ heal information is required by providers to get paid, to treat patients, to run businesses and market, the benefit of HIPAA is that it requires these providers and employers to seek patient’s consent, permission or authorization in order to use their health information thus enhancing privacy on health information of patients as well as ethics (Herdman & Moses, 2006, p. 13). From the providers, employers, health insurance planners and other relevant parties that make use of health information, HIPAA may be seen as a detriment since it requires compliance with administrative requirements such as designation of privacy officer, participation of staff in HIPAA training, relevant safeguards. HIPAA also requires providers of healthcare to establish a process to be used in addressing individuals’ complaints and a policy to discipline staff in case of incompliance. In addition, the HIPAA may lead to delay in treatment and other healthcare processes as providers seek compliance.
Conclusion
HIPAA has greatly improved ethics by enhancing privacy on health information of patients; the act is seen as an improvement on healthcare operations when viewed from patient’s privacy improvement since the act has largely enhanced privacy in patient’s health information (Judson & Harrelson, 2010, p. 134). However, looking at the administrative requirements on providers, HIPAA lays a compliance burden on provider and may derail the healthcare provision or treatment process as providers seek to comply with the act.
References
Herdman, R. & Moses, H. (2006). Effect of the HIPAA privacy rule on health research: proceedings of a workshop presented to the National Cancer Policy Forum. Washington, D.C: National Academies Press
Judson, K., & Harrelson, C. (2010). Law & Ethics for Medical Careers (5th ed.). London: Mcgraw-Hill
Sullivan, J., American Bar Association, Health Law Section. (2004). HIPAA: a practical guide to the privacy and security of health data. New York: American Bar Association. Read More
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