HIPPA is an acronym. It stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Congress passed the act in 1996. HIPPA does the following:
- Provides the ability to transfer and continue health insurance coverage for Americans and their families when they change or lose their jobs;
- Reduces healthcare fraud
- Mandates standards for health care information on billing
- Requires the protection of health information
Portability refers to an employee’s option to retain certain benefits when switching employers. Things such as 401K accounts and some pensions have portability. This plays a part in what we call rollover, specifically IRA rollover. An IRA rollover occurs when employees change jobs. The old employer’s retirement administration has to transfer the account balance to the new employer. Taxes do not have to be paid when a direct rollover transfer is made. 401K accounts can rollover also.
HIPPA must protect all of an individual’s identifiable health information. Medical offices refer to an individual’s health information as “protected health information”.
This refers to information such as:
- A person’s past, present, or future physical or mental health conditions.
- Any health care provided to a person such as clinical notes or lab results related to medical care.
- Past, present, or future payments related to health care (e.g. billing records)
Healthcare providers and insurers create and store this information. HIPPA also protects all demographic information and any information that can identify a person, such as names and addresses.
Rules on Disclosing Information
HIPPA makes it so that no one can access your information unless the individual who is the subject authorizes it. HIPPA allows doctors to disclose health information if the privacy rule permits or requires it. There is a difference in between information that HIPPA permits doctors to share and information that doctors must share. This has caused a lot of confusion when it comes to HIPPA. When doctors are required to disclose information they have to give the information. When doctors are permitted to disclose information there are allowed to but don’t necessarily have to. This means that they can refuse to give out the requested information. They are legally allowed to do so.
Minimum Necessary Requirement
HIPPA’s privacy rule has a principle of minimum necessary use and disclosure. This means that when health care providers share information, they can’t just disclose anything. They can only give information out on a need-to-know basis. Also, they only focus on what’s relevant and necessary. The minimum necessary requirement does not apply to all disclosures. If your doctor refers you to another doctor, they can send your whole medical chart along. If a doctor is speaking to your family at the hospital, HIPPA limits what he or she shares to “necessary and relevant information”.
Every time you go to a new doctor you sign a HIPPA release form. Now, what is that exactly?
That is a form saying that this doctor can access your health information. They have you sign this so that they have written proof you gave consent. These forms are, technically, not required by HIPPA. These forms are optional, but they serve as a type of insurance or protection for the doctors. Also, they want to avoid being accused of not protecting a patient’s rights and confidentiality.