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INTRODUCTION

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, commonly known as HIPAA, is the law that sets rules, guidelines, and standards for protecting sensitive patient data. HIPAA’s rules are wide-ranging and can potentially affect many businesses and organizations, which can often lead to compliance issues.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 was enacted on August 21, 1996 by the United States Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton. It includes Title I, which protects health insurance coverage for workers and their families when they change or lose their jobs, and Title II, known as Administrative Simplification (AS) provisions, which establishes national standards for electronic health-care transactions and national identifiers for providers, health insurance plans and employers.

In brief, HIPAA governs protected health information (PHI), which includes any and all information created or received in any medium, form, or transmission method (including verbal) by a variety of organizations, including:

  • health care providers
  • life insurers
  • health plans
  • schools and universities
  • public health authorities
  • health care clearinghouses
  • employers