Health Insurance Portability and Accessibility Act, 1996

HIPAA was passed by the US Congress in 1996 and was enacted in April, 2003, to protect patients’ privacy in everything that had to do with insurance coverage and health care delivery, including communications related to insurance and health care. HIPAA also includes rules and regulations guaranteeing patients’ unfettered access to their health care records, but privacy is definitely the larger and more far-reaching focus of the Act.

Recent audits of providers, insurers, and other entities covered by HIPAA by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) signal greater federal efforts to ensure compliance. Clearly, it is time for providers and other health care and insurance entities to re-examine, update, and reinforce their internal polices related to patient’s access to their information and entities efforts to protect the privacy of that information.

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