HIPAA was originally passed the the Clinton Administration in 1996 to ensure that individuals between jobs maintain their health insurance cover. Before HIPAA, employees lost their insurance coverage when they were between jobs.
A secondary aim of HIPAA was to stop healthcare fraud and ensure that all ‘protected health information’ was properly safeguarded and to control access to health data to authorized persons.
With the introduction of HIPAA came a range of important benefits for the healthcare sector to assist with the transition from paper records to electronic copies of healthcare data. HIPAA has helped to make administrative healthcare functions more straightforward, improve efficiency in the healthcare industry, and ensure protected health information is safe while being shared.
The legal requirements for recording health data and electronic transactions ensures everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet. As every HIPAA-covered outfits must use the same code sets and nationally recognized identifiers, this assists greatly with the transfer of electronic health information between healthcare providers, health plans, and other outfits.
It may be claimed that the greatest advantages of HIPAA are for patients. HIPAA is important because it ensures healthcare providers, health plans, healthcare clearinghouses, and business associates of HIPAA-covered outfits must createt multiple safeguards to protect sensitive personal and health information.
While no healthcare outfit wishes to expose sensitive data or have health information illegally taken, without HIPAA there would be no legal requirement for healthcare outfits to safeguard data – and no repercussions if they did not do so.
HIPAA created rules that require healthcare outfits 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 data shared with healthcare providers and health plans, or information that is created by them, sent, or managed by them, is subject to strict security controls. Patients are also given management controls over who their information is released to and who it is shared with.
HIPAA is vital for patients who want to take a more active role in their healthcare and want to obtain copies of their health idata. Even with great care, healthcare outfits 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 allows patients to have greater control when they seek treatment from new healthcare outfits – information can be passed on, tests do not need to be conducted again, and new healthcare providers have the entire health history of a patient to inform their decisions. Before the passing of the HIPAA Privacy Rule, there was no requirements for healthcare outfits to release copies of patients’ health information.