HR Support on HIPAA Compliance

Editor's Note: Know the differences between HIPAA's privacy and security rules!

Tracy MorleyOverview: The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy and Security Rules and the enforcement provisions surrounding them are of paramount importance to HR.

HIPAA's Privacy Rule sets standards for the protection of certain health information and addresses the use and disclosure of individual health information, more commonly known as protected health information or PHI. The objective of the Privacy Rule is to protect the privacy of medical information while, at the same time, allowing the flow of necessary information to provide high quality health care.

While the Privacy Rule deals with the use and disclosure of PHI, HIPAA's Security Rule establishes standards to protect an individual's electronic protected health information, or ePHI. The Security Rule attempts to ensure the security of ePHI through the use of administrative, physical and technical safeguards and applies only to electronically transmitted or stored PHI and not to oral or written PHI.

The Health Information and Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, or HITECH Act made significant changes to HIPAA's Privacy and Security rules in the areas of enforcement provisions, notification of breach requirements, access to electronic health records and the definition of business associate.

Trends: A major provision of the HITECH Act is to improve enforcement of HIPAA violations. The Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has stepped up its enforcement of compliance with the privacy, security and breach notification rules in this regard.

Author: Tracy Morley, SPHR, Legal Editor

Latest items in HIPAA Privacy and Security

  • ACA Final Rule Limiting Waiting Periods Released

    Date:
    25 February 2014
    Type:
    News

    The US Departments of Labor, Treasury and Health and Human Services issued a final rule implementing the 90-day waiting period limitation under the Affordable Care Act.

  • Dermatology Practice Fails to Adopt HIPAA Breach Notification Policies and Procedures, Agrees to Pay $150,000 Fine

    Date:
    27 January 2014
    Type:
    News

    Adult & Pediatric Dermatology, P.C. agreed to pay $150,000 to settle potential violations of the Privacy, Security and Breach Notification Rules under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. This is the first settlement with a covered entity for not having policies and procedures in place to address the breach notification provision of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act.

  • HIPAA Excepted Benefits Broadened Under Proposed Rules

    Date:
    24 December 2013
    Type:
    News

    The federal Departments of Labor, Treasury and Health and Human Services have jointly published proposed regulations regarding amendments to HIPAA excepted benefits. Employers are invited to comment on the proposed rules and on the government's approach.

  • New Quick Reference Chart on HIPAA Violation Categories and Penalty Amounts Added

    Date:
    25 September 2013
    Type:
    Editor's Choice

    A quick reference chart has been added to help employers quickly assess penalties for noncompliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The chart provides a summary of the HIPAA violation category, the penalty range for each violation and the maximum penalty amounts for HIPAA violations.

  • HIPAA Violation Categories and Penalty Amounts - Chart

    Type:
    Quick Reference

    The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) improves the portability and continuity of health insurance coverage for workers when they change or lose jobs and establishes a set of standards for the electronic exchange of health information. The Health Information and Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act made significant changes to the privacy and security rules under HIPAA and strengthens HIPAA's enforcement provisions and increases the penalties for HIPAA violations. This quick reference chart provides a summary of the HIPAA violation category, the penalty range for each violation and the maximum penalty amounts for HIPAA violations.

  • Same-Sex Spouses Now Covered by ERISA, DOL Says

    Date:
    20 September 2013
    Type:
    News

    Recent guidance issued by the US Department of Labor states same-sex spouses are now eligible for the same benefits and protections as opposite-sex spouses under employee benefit plans and programs covered under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

  • Taking Proactive Steps Will Ensure Early HIPAA Compliance

    Date:
    28 August 2013
    Type:
    News

    The September 23, 2013 deadline for complying with the HIPAA omnibus final rule is quickly approaching.

  • Affinity Health Plan Pays over $1.2 Million for HIPAA Photocopier Breach

    Date:
    16 August 2013
    Type:
    News

    HHS reaches $1.2 million settlement with Affinity Health Plan for violations of the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules.

  • HIPAA Content Updated to Reflect New Requirements for Employer Wellness Programs Under the Affordable Care Act

    Date:
    07 June 2013
    Type:
    Editor's Choice

    The Health Information and Privacy (HIPAA) section of the Employment Law Manual has been updated to reflect the new rule regarding wellness programs under the Affordable Care Act.

  • Health Information and Privacy (HIPAA)

    Type:
    Employment Law Manual

    Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) protects health insurance coverage for employees and their dependents that lose coverage or change jobs. This section reviews HIPAA's limitations on pre-existing condition exclusions, along with HIPAA's Privacy Rule for safeguarding protected health information (PHI) and Security Rule for protecting electronic PHI (ePHI).