June 2006Volume 7Number 4PDF icon PDF version (for best printing)


The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, what we know as HIPAA, was enacted by Congress in 1996. HIPAA protects health insurance coverage for workers and their families with a job change or loss (Title I) and requires the establishment of national standards for electronic health care transactions (Title II). We generally think of HIPAA when addressing the security and privacy of health information, part of Title II.

Effective April 2003, the HIPAA Privacy provisions include a patient’s ability to access their records and how their personal information will be used. Covered entities such as doctors and hospitals are required to document their privacy procedures and designate privacy officers, among other obligations.

Because of the sheer breadth of the issues related to HIPAA, there are many Web sites dealing with HIPAA and its obligations. Here are just a few of those available.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)offers many links. You can download a summary of the law at: <http://www.cms.hhs.gov/HIPAAGenInfo/Downloads/HIPAAlawsum.pdf>. HHS’s Office for Civil Rights provides multiple links for consumers along with educational materials <http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/hipaa/>. 

The U.S. Department of Labor also provides DOL Web pages, covering issues from compliance assistance to how your employer’s bankruptcy could affect your benefits. <http://www.dol.gov/dol/topic/health-plans/portability.htm>.

The State of Illinois Department of Human Services also provides links regarding state-operated facilities. <Http://www.dhs.state.il.us/hipaa/>. 

The American Academy of Family Physicians provides step by step instruction, even for the most novice HIPAA inquirer at: <http://www.aafp.org/online/en/home/practicemgt/regulatory-compliance/hipaa.html>.

Information includes a HIPAA overview, tools to implement HIPAA in medical offices, plus FAQs.

Even the banking industry has information regarding HIPAA. The Electronic Payments Association and the American Bankers Association joined forced to form the Banking Industry HIPAA Task Force. <Http://www.hipaabanking.org>.

The topic has taken on a life of its own, including several HIPAA blogs: <www.hipaablog.blogspot.com/> <www.hipaablog.com>.

There are even advertisements on the net for “HIPAA-compliant shredders”!

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