This edition of the In-sites column provides a listing of some useful Web sites with information about the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”). In 1996, Congress enacted HIPAA (see Public Law 104-191, effective August 21, 1996) to apply to health information created or maintained by health care providers who engage in certain electronic transactions, health plans, and health care clearinghouses. The Department of Human Services has issued a Privacy Rule that provides comprehensive federal protection for the privacy of health information.
A site maintained by the federal Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights and which contains comprehensive information about HIPAA and medical privacy is www.hhs.gov/ocr/hipaa/ . This site contains general information, links to HIPAA regulations and standards, educational materials and information about how to file a health information privacy complaint. There are links containing targeted information for consumers, small providers and small businesses. Additionally, the site provides links to HIPAA information contained on other federal agency Web sites. A useful portion of the site is the “Answers to Frequently Asked Questions” link. Examples of frequently asked questions that are answered on that site include: “Who must comply with these new HIPAA privacy standards?”; “Does the HIPAA privacy rule override state laws that require consent to use or disclose health information?”; “Will the privacy rule impede the disclosures needed to pay workers’ compensation claims”; “Will the privacy rule make it easier for police and law enforcement to get my medical information”; “May I make disclosures to public officials who are responding to a bioterrorism threat/emergency”; and “Are hospitals able to inform the clergy about parishioners in the hospital?”
A preliminary draft analysis assessing the impact of HIPAA and its related regulations on a variety of Illinois laws related to the use or disclosure of health information can be found at: www.illinois.gov/hipaa/
A number of state agency Web sites also contain HIPAA information. The Illinois Department of Insurance site contains information about HIPAA and pre-existing conditions at: www.ins.state.il.us/HealthInsurance/HIPAApre-ex.ht The Comprehensive Health Insurance Program (CHIP) site www.chip.state.il.us/chip.htm contains information about qualifying as a federally eligible individual under Section 15 (HIPAA) of the CHIP Act. HIPAA information may be accessed at the Department of Human Services site www.dhs.state.il.us/hipaa/ and at the Department of Public Aid site www.myidpa.com/hipaa/ . The Department of Central Management Services site contains information about HIPAA in publications relating to benefit choice options at: www.state.il.us/cms/2_servicese_ben/groupins.htm