The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or better known as (HIPAA) began in 1996 as an Act to help individuals keep their health insurance as they moved from one job to another. As the future brought new advancements HIPAA evolved to include much more than portability. HIPAA now includes many complex rules to protect patient privacy along with the use of information technology that transfers medical records.
Nearly a decade ago, lawmakers tried to combine the older age ethical tradition of patient privacy with newer age health technology advances, in hopes of saving more lives and reducing such high medical costs. Congress’ intention of the HIPAA Privacy Act was to bring the healthcare industry into the 20th century, while saving U.S citizens billions of dollars.
As health care technologies advance so does the rules, rights, and regulations of HIPAA. It’s important to know the “in’s” and “outs” of HIPAA and these new advancement’s. Having a guest speaker for HIPAA helped me learn and realize these new advancement’s, a long with what HIPAA really stands for, the rights of patients, and what a breach is and how to prevent it. In the words of the guest speaker, HIPAA equals privacy. Each letter in HIPAA stands for and explains exactly what the Act is. The letter “H” in HIPAA stands for health, the health of the patient. “I” in HIPAA stands for insurance, the availability of health plans for the patient. The “P” in HIPAA stands for portability, it’s portable. “A” is for accountability, they are accountable for here actions. And finally the last “A” in HIPAA stands for act, the action of carrying something out. All of these letters may make up HIPAA but it’s important to know what they actually mean and stand for. After learning the patient rights from the guest speaker I think it makes up the most important part of HIPAA. Knowing your rights under HIPAA can save you from trouble in the future. The first right of HIPAA is The Right to Access, how you the patient can access their health information and obtain copies of their health information.
The second patient right is The Right to Restrictions which gives you the right to restrict certain disclosures of your health information. Another important patient right to HIPAA is The Right to Amendment, it gives you the right to request on amendment to your health information. The next right is The Right to Accounting of Disclosures, this right makes sure your request on accounting of disclosure made on your health information is met. The next patient right is The Right to Complain of Privacy Rights Violation, which I think is the most important. It gives you the right to complain if you feel that your health information has been used or disclosed inappropriately. The last patient right the speaker talked about was how the patients’ health information us used and disclosed. Which allows many ways on how your health information is used or disclosed in regards to treatment, payment, and health care operations. Also patient rights of authorization to release medical or health information and the right to revoke authorizations. As you can see there are many rights that the patient has. These rights ensure that patients get the right care in regards to health and how medical records are stored. Even though these rights protect patients there are still major problems that can happen. One of the major problems with HIPAA is a breach. A breach is the unauthorized access use, or disclosure of protected health information that compromises the privacy of such information. According to the HIPAA guest speaker, penalties for a breach can equal up to 1.5millon a year. For individuals found guilty of breach, penalties can be up to $100,000 per year, per violation and or up to ten years in prison. You may be wondering how they decide if there is a breach. Some exceptions to breach that the guest speaker informed us of are unintentional access or use of health information. Only if that information accessed was made in a good faith within employment and the information was not further accessed or used, it is not considered a breach. Another exception of a breach situation is child abuse. Law Enforcement must collect medical evidence to investigate and prosecute a possible child abuse case. Along with Law Enforcement Officials, Social Services also have HIPAA exceptions so they can serve victims of abuse, neglect, and domestic violence.
A breach in HIPAA can be very serious, so it’s important to practice good prevention precautions. Some of the guest speaker’s tips on preventing a breach were locking files to secure important papers. Also securing areas that have any health information, so only the people who are authorized have access to them. Not only do health care workers take precautions to avoid a breach, but so does HIPAA. HIPAA officials do random checks on health care patients in different facilities to ensure that only the authorized workers had access to their medical records. One of HIPAA’s main goals are to protect the patient’s privacy. Taking these precautions as a health care worker can prevent any complications regarding HIPAA and most importantly patient privacy. Having a guest speaker come into class helped me understand more concepts of HIPAA I didn’t understand. She taught me what HIPAA is really about, patient rights, and how important it is to prevent a breach. Learning more about HIPAA will help me in my future career. HIPAA will directly affect my future, as I am currently going for a medical assistant degree. But HIPAA doesn’t just affect people going into the medical field it affects the patients. Therefore it is important for everyone to learn and understand the importance of HIPAA.
Law and Ethics (For the Health Professions) 6e (2013). HIPAA. Pages From74 – To 76 http://www.uthscsa.edu/hipaa/patientrights.asp
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