Frequently Asked Questions : Privacy

What is HIPAA?

HIPAA is the acronym for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. This federal statute was enacted by Congress to ensure and improve the continuity of health insurance coverage for U.S. workers changing jobs.

To achieve this objective, HIPAA contained “Administrative Simplification” provisions which mandated the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to adopt national standards for the transmission and protection of health information.

The resulting standards adopted and published by the HHS were the Privacy Standard, Security Standard, the Transactions and Code Sets Standard, and the National Provider Identifier Standard. These standards are applicable to all health plans, health care clearinghouses, and health care providers, which HIPAA designates as “covered entities.”

As a result of HIPAA, there are now greater federal protections for the privacy and security of patient health information; and greater standardization for electronic health care transactions between covered entities. Compliance with HIPAA is mandatory. This greater standardization promotes efficiency and effectiveness with the intent of improving healthcare in the United States.