In 1996, President Clinton signed the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). this new law was enacted as part of a broad congressional attempt at incremental healthcare reform.
HIPAA has two primary purposes. One is to provide continuous insurance coverage for workers who change jobs, and the other is to "reduce the costs and administrative burdens of health care by making possible the standardized, electronic transmission of many administrative and financial transactions that are currently carried out manually on paper.
What does HIPAA do?
Protects the privacy of a client's personal and health information
Provides for electronic and physical security of personal and health information
Simplifies billing and other transactions
Provides a process for individuals to make complaints and document such complaints and their disposition
What is protected health information?
A person's name, address, birth date, age, phone and fax numbers, e-mail address
Medical records, diagnosis, x-rays, photos, prescriptions, lab work, test results
Billing records, claim data, referral authorizations, explanation of benefits