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What Is HIPAA?

HIPAA stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.  HIPAA is a law that was passed in 1996 offering protection for patient’s medical information.  It oversees who can view and receive your health information and gives you the right to a copy of your record.  HIPAA information includes information in your medical record that is documented by healthcare providers.  This can also include conversation amongst your healthcare treatment team about your care.  HIPAA also includes billing information about you.
HIPAA must be followed by insurance companies, healthcare providers and external businesses that are associated with these and come in contact with your health information.  Organizations such as life insurance, schools and many law enforcement agencies do not have to follow the law of HIPAA.  The organizations that follow HIPAA must limit their use and disclosure of your information to the minimum necessary needed to complete the job at hand.  They must also have safeguards in place to protect one’s health information.  Employers must also be trained about HIPAA and have limited access to health information, as only necessary.
As many healthcare systems are moving to holding electronic health records, also known as EHR, the HIPPA law also has a Security Rule in place to protect this electronic health information.  This means that healthcare providers must have electronic security systems and measures in place to avoid a breach in the system.  If a breach is identified the healthcare provider must notify you.
It is important as a healthcare patient and as a healthcare provider to be aware of HIPAA rights and rules that apply to all people involved.  Stay tuned for more details about how HIPAA can affect you.

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