Why is HIPAA Important to Patients?

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a landmark piece of legislation and its significance should not be lost on people.

It introduced major amendment that benefited to the healthcare industry and patients when it was was introduced in 1996. Its initial aim was to address one particular issue: Insurance coverage for individuals that are between jobs. Prior to HIPAA being enacted employees faced a loss of insurance coverage when they were between jobs.

Another goal of HIPAA was to attempt to eliminate healthcare fraud and ensure that all ‘protected health information’ was appropriately secured and to limit access to health data to authorized persons.

HIPAA brought in numerous advantages for the healthcare industry to help with the move from paper records to electronic copies of health information. HIPAA has assisted in simplifying administrative healthcare functions, improve efficiency in the healthcare industry, and ensure protected health information is shared safely.

The standards for capturing healthcare data and electronic transactions ensures everyone is using a similar strategy for compliance. Since all HIPAA-covered entities must use the same code sets and nationally recognized identifiers, this helps greatly with the transfer of electronic health information between healthcare suppliers, health plans, and other groups.

It could be said that the greatest benefits of HIPAA are for patients. HIPAA is important because it means that s healthcare providers, health plans, healthcare clearinghouses, and business associates of HIPAA-covered entities have to use multiple safeguards to protect sensitive personal and health information.

While no healthcare group wishes to expose sensitive data or have health information stolen, without HIPAA there would be no obligation on healthcare organizations to safeguard data – and no repercussions if they did not do so.

HIPAA put in place rules that require healthcare groups to control who has access to health data, limiting who can view health information and who that information can be sent to. HIPAA helps to ensure that any information shared to healthcare providers and health plans, or information that is set up by them, sent or stored by them, is subject to strict security controls. Patients are also given management over who their information is released to and who it is shared to.

HIPAA is vital for patients who want to take a more active role in their healthcare and want to download and review copies of their health information. Even with great care, healthcare bodies can make errors when recording health information. If patients are able to obtain copies, they can check for errors and ensure mistakes are addressed.

Obtaining copies of health information also means that patients can pass on information when they seek treatment from new healthcare providers/ Due to this tests do not need to be repeated and new healthcare providers have the entire health history of a patient to advise their decisions. Before the Introduction of the HIPAA Privacy Rule, there was no obligations on healthcare organizations to share copies of patients’ health information.