HIPAA is a set of federal regulations that control the use and release of an individual’s medical records. HIPAA stands for: The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. So, if you don’t know what this is about, here is a guide to help you.
1. HIPAA applies to Healthcare Providers
The first thing you should know about HIPAA compliance is that it does not apply to the average person. HIPAA compliance applies only to healthcare providers. But what is a healthcare provider? Healthcare providers are any person who is involved in the “creation, transmission, storage, or execution of electronic protected health information” (EPHI). This means that HIPAA compliance applies to hospitals, physicians’ offices and clinics, pharmacies and any other party that may have your EPHI. Your medical records can be full of personal information such as your address, phone number and social security number as well as sensitive information such as your diagnosis and treatment plan for various conditions. Thus, you should know how valuable this data can be if it falls into the wrong hands. If you want to find out more about this and how to stop it check out this URL for some information. According to the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, more than 26 million Americans have their identities stolen each year with medical identity theft accounting for nearly half of all instances. So, one of the main reasons HIPAA was created was to protect your medical records by controlling how they are used and who has access to them.
2. What are the penalties for non-compliance?
The second thing you should know about HIPAA compliance is that there are substantial penalties for non-compliance. According to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which is responsible for enforcing these rules, “there will be civil and, in some cases, criminal penalties imposed on covered entities and their business Associates for HIPAA violations.” This is a pretty significant threat to anyone who mishandles your medical records. The HHS gives examples of these penalties in the case that a health care provider is non-compliant with HIPAA rules. In one example, it states that “Hospitals will pay $50,000 for every [violation] when [they are] not compliant.” And in another example it states that “[a] physician will pay $50,000 for a violation related to marketing.” These are just some consequences of non-compliance with HIPAA. In addition to this, there may be civil lawsuits as a result of HIPAA violations, as stated above.
3. What are some HIPAA rules?
The third thing you should know about HIPAA compliance is that the law specifies rules for how your medical records should be used and who can access them. There are several rules, but here is a list of the main ones:
- PHI may not be shared without consent from the individual or as part of a limited data set.
- PHI must be stored in secure locations only accessible by those with an approved “need to know.”
- Electronic PHI must meet certain standards such as being encrypted with a 2048-bit key or stronger.
- Secure ePHI transmissions using methods that encrypt information while it travels over public networks.
- Firewalls, passwords, and intrusion detection systems on all electronic devices along with physical access controls for locations with ePHI.
If any of these rules are violated, there can be serious consequences as stated above. So it is important to know the rules in order to avoid this. Also, note that the HHS has a list of HIPAA FAQs to learn more about how it applies to you and your medical records.
4. How will HIPAA affect me?
The final thing you should know about HIPAA compliance is how it may impact your daily life and activities, including some things you might not expect. For example, if your doctor’s office had a computer crash with all of its patients’ records on it, or if someone hacked into their system and downloaded all the records onto a flash drive, then those records could be viewed by anyone who gets their hands on them—or misused in other ways. In addition, you should know that if a HIPAA-violation breach is caused by your doctor’s office then you may be held liable for damages. So it is important to keep your personal information safe from these breaches. HIPAA-related breaches are on the rise, so it is more critical than ever that you protect your information.
We hope that this article has cleared up some questions you might have about HIPAA compliance. It’s significant that everyone knows what HIPAA is, why it was created, and what the consequences are of non-compliance with HIPAA rules. If you want to protect yourself from fraud or identity theft then it is very important to keep your personal information safe and secure and follow our advice.