The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) isn’t the most interesting topic to read about. However, it’s crucial to know the requirements and how they affect your business. If you are found in noncompliance with HIPAA laws, you could be subject to hefty fines, jail time, and a damaged reputation.
Like other government laws, HIPAA can be confusing to understand. To get you up to speed on the most important aspects of HIPAA, we’ve created this tip sheet for you.
Compliance is Not Voluntary
HIPAA compliance is not a choice. It’s the law. If you violate HIPAA, you face consequences. One of the ways that noncompliance is discovered is by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR). The OCR may find you in violation when doing a random compliance audit or when receiving a complaint. If noncompliance is found, you may be given time to make corrections. Or, you may not.
Information Protected Under HIPAA
Protected Health Information (PHI) refers to any individually identifiable health information, such as a person’s mental health, physical health, health care provided, demographic information and more. All identifiable health information is protected under HIPAA. However, the Privacy Rule is balanced and allows for PHI needed for patient care.
Industries Most Affected by HIPAA
Covered entities, such as health care providers, health plans or health care clearinghouses, must comply with HIPAA laws. They aren’t the only ones that need to follow HIPAA laws, but they most commonly work with PHI like demographics and physical health conditions. Let’s break these down.
- Health care providers include doctors, dentists, psychologists, nursing homes and pharmacies.
- Health plans refer to health insurance companies, company health plans, HMOs, and government plans like Medicare and Medicaid.
- Health care clearinghouse include private or public entities that have access to PHI such as billing services.
HIPAA compliance violations include all types of wrongdoings, such as exposing confidential information or not reporting a security breach. Typically, the punishment correlates with the violation. The more serious the violation, the more serious the consequence. The most common punishments include fines, prison time, and a damaged reputation.
Is your business following HIPAA laws? Global Document Solutions helps businesses of all sizes better manage their data while staying in compliance with HIPAA regulations. We strongly suggest encrypting sensitive files, storing data on the cloud, and shredding outdated documents. For more information about our document management services, call us today!