HIPAA, the acronym for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, originally became law in 1996. As many people have incorrectly spelled the acronym as “HIPPA” or assumed the “P” must mean “privacy,” we continue to educate on the intent and reiterate the components of this act.
Originally, HIPAA was meant to not only protect individuals’ Protected Health Information (PHI) but to ensure that insurance did not penalize persons for pre-existing medical conditions. HIPAA also addresses the provision insurance and proper exchange of health information. “HIPAA helps ensure that all medical records, medical billing, and patient accounts meet certain consistent standards with regard to documentation, handling, and privacy….HIPAA Laws and Regulations are divided into five rules: Privacy, Security, Transactions, Identifiers, Enforcement, and HITECH (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act)” (www.hipaa-101.com).
Recently, during a meeting with the Globe University-Wausau health care management degree Program Advisory Committee (PAC), one member offered that while additions to HIPAA have been enacted over the years, recent changes have been made to the law itself, including stronger enforcement and new covered entities. The PAC member shared that Aspirus offers materials on HIPAA via their website. One particular resource offered is entitled the “HIPAA Helper”—a pocket guide for staff and patients providing the general framework of HIPAA and one’s rights and responsibilities.
Why is this pertinent? Everyone, whether or not they have health insurance, has their own health information and a right to keep it confidential. An additional reason is that we have added a new course to the Globe University health care management program: HM340 Compliance. While HIPAA is addressed specifically and broadly in many of the program’s courses, this compliance course will assist students in understanding, evaluating and creating the frameworks that are part and parcel to HIPAA and the additional entities and regulations that govern the actions of health care organizations.
We firmly believe that this course will be a positive learning experience for students, faculty and the organizations we collaborate with.