7 Important Facts About the HIPAA Law

hipaa law health insurance privacy

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is something you might have heard of, but you may not fully understand it. The act came into being in 1996, and since then, it has evolved with the pace of technological development. 

The legislation was created to ensure that people could move their health insurance between companies as they moved around in their career or location. It also sought to make the transfer of medical records easier while protecting patient data. 

If you run a business that handles healthcare data, you need to know the HIPAA law facts. But what are HIPPA Laws? 

Let’s take a look at seven key facts about HIPAA law. 

1. HIPAA Law Compliance Is Mandatory 

If you run a business that handles healthcare data, then you have no option but to comply with the legislation. 

Unlike the Meaningful Use incentive, organizations that handle any protected health information (PHI) will need to comply with HIPAA. This is the law. 

There are several elements to HIPAA that must be adhered to at all times. These include the HIPAA Security Rule, HIPAA Breach Notification, and the HIPAA Privacy Rule. These are all in place to protect the privacy of patients. 

2. Compliance Won’t Break the Bank 

Although there are costs involved in putting in place a secure messaging system, carrying out a HIPAA risk assessment, and making sure your employees are up to speed with all of the data systems needed, these are probably less than you might anticipate. 

The setup costs associated with ensuring your organization is fully compliant with HIPAA laws will vary depending on your operation's size and nature. 

There is a Security Risk Assessment Tool that you could use when carrying out a full and thorough HIPAA risk assessment or, even better still, have a third party organization carry it out for you. 

You could also save money by carrying out all team training into the secure messaging solutions alongside any other team training that your employees may require. This will ensure that such training sessions won’t be a drain on your time and resources. 

3. HIPAA Fines Might Be Costly 

While the costs associated with implementing HIPAA may be less than you might think, the fines for not doing this can be very high. 

It is vital that you carry out all of the necessary measures to ensure you are compliant or you could face some very large fines. A single violation for a compromised patient record could land you with a fine of $59,522 with a calendar cap of $1,785,651. 

When you deal with hundreds or even thousands of medical records, the amount you could get fined can grow exponentially. 

An example of one data breach that proved costly was the New York-Presbyterian Hospital, which accidentally disclosed the medical records of some 6,800 patients online. 

They could have faced a fine of over $340 million; however, fortunately for them, the fine was just a mere $3.3 million. 

4. Complying With HIPAA Laws Won’t Harm Your Employee Efficiency 

As a business owner, you may have concerns that your team and your organization's efficiency will be affected by the implementation of HIPAA measures. Rest assured that this will not be the case. 

The convenience that mobile communication offers will actually be enhanced by the systems that you will need to have in place to be HIPAA compliant. 

5. Doctors Don’t Need Permission to Share Data With Other Doctors 

As a patient, you do not need to give your consent for your medical records to be transferred to another doctor. 

A doctor is allowed to disclose any health information so that a patient can be treated or can pay for their healthcare. All of this can be done without the need for any consent. 

6. Ownership of Medical Records 

While a patient has the right to access their medical records under the HIPAA law, as a patient, you do not have complete ownership of your medical records. The healthcare provider is the one that owns your medical records. 

Health insurers and providers must comply with your rights to access your medical records, have corrections made, receive notifications about how your information is being used and shared, and decide on whether you want to have your information used for marketing purposes. 

If you think that your rights are not being met, then you could file a complaint with your insurer or health provider or complain to the Department of Health and Human Services. 

7. A HIPAA Violation Can Damage Your Reputation 

If you run an organization that gets hit with a HIPAA violation, then it would not only result in financial penalties, but it could also do serious damage to your reputation. The trust that your patients had in you would be immediately eroded. 

Maintaining trust is of the utmost importance in the healthcare sector, and your success will rely on this trust being in place. Any breaches of protected health information and the investigations that would follow could destroy that trust completely. 

One of the best ways to ensure that there is trust between your patients and you is to ensure you are fully compliant in all aspects of the HIPAA laws. 

How to Ensure You’re Compliant With HIPAA Law 

One of the best ways to ensure that you are fully compliant with HIPAA law is to have a third-party company come and carry out audits and risk assessments. 

Although there is some financial outlay involved in doing this, the costs outweigh the loss of trust and fines you might face in the event of a breach. For more helpful articles on healthcare law, be sure to explore the rest of the Bootstrap Business Blog.

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