Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA)

Last Updated: May 24, 2018

Definition - What does Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) mean?

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) was enacted to make it easier for employees to transfer between jobs while still maintaining their health insurance. A comprehensive piece of healthcare legislation, HIPAA also included provisions designed to reduce fraud and abuse in the delivery of healthcare and secure the privacy and security of individual healthcare records. While all of the provisions of HIPAA have had an effect on the delivery of healthcare and provision of healthcare insurance since its enactment, the act's privacy and security provisions have perhaps had the largest impact. HIPAA requires so-called covered entities who handle or have access to individual's healthcare information to securely maintain that information and protect the individual's privacy.

WorkplaceTesting explains Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA)

One of the most significant provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPPA) was the imposition of a nondisclosure requirement on covered entities that have access to individuals' personally identifiable healthcare information. This information became protected patient healthcare information under the act. Health insurers, healthcare providers, and healthcare clearing houses are obligated to secure patient information pursuant to HIPAA. This rule is sometimes called the Privacy Rule. While most employers are not directly subject to the Privacy Rule as covered entities, the rule does limit the information that an employer can request and receive about an employee from a covered entity. As a result, except in limited circumstances, an employer must often obtain explicit consent from an employee to review medical reports related to the employee's substance use, illness, disability, or injury.

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