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HIPAA: What It Is and Why You Should Care

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You've probably already experienced some effects of new HIPAA regulations at your doctor's office. But these more stringent privacy policies don't affect just your doctor and her patients; they also apply to the IT solution provider who stores those patient records, and maybe other tech companies down the line.

What Is HIPAA?

As our society becomes increasingly dependent on the flow of information in our daily lives, the ease with which such information is transmitted needs to be balanced with the concerns of privacy and security. This balance is most critical for information that relates directly to our personal livelihood and health, such as financial information and our medical records.

As one of the largest healthcare providers and information consumers in the world (with Medicare and Medicaid), the U.S. government needed to address two major issues:

  • Accountability. As the electronic flow and exchange of information has become more prevalent, so have fears about how such information might be used and/or abused in this information age.

  • Standards. Information can only be exchanged easily if standards for both the format and exchange of the data can be followed by all interested parties.

In 1996, the United States Congress passed the Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, commonly referred to as HIPAA (pronounced HIP-uh). Through HIPAA, Congress charged the department of Health and Human Services (HHS) with addressing the information concerns facing the healthcare industry.

Some of the HIPAA rules are already in effect, others are just now coming online, and a final set is waiting in the wings. The rules published by HHS break down into four broad areas:

  • The Transactions Rule

  • The Privacy Rule

  • Standard Unique Employer Identifier

  • Provider and Health Plan Identifiers

Let's take a closer look at what has been implemented and what's coming down the road.

CAUTION

Disclaimer: The content of this article is provided for informational purposes only. The author of this article is not a lawyer, and nothing here should be construed as legal advice. For all questions regarding legal matters, you should consult an attorney, not the World Wide Web.

Timeline

Once HHS publishes a rule under HIPAA, the industry is typically given 24 months before compliance with the rule is mandatory. This is a far greater lead time than most rules, but the increased compliance time is warranted due to the complexity of implementing new information technology. Currently, the rules take effect as shown in the following table.

Rule

Mandatory Compliance Date

The Transactions and Code Set Standards

October 16, 2003

The Privacy Rule

April 14, 2003

The Security Rule

April 21, 2005

Standard Unique Employer Identifier

July 30, 2004

Standard Provider and Plan Identifiers

Not yet established


HIPAA is in the news again this summer due to the compliance date for the Standard Unique Employer Identifier, which falls under mandatory compliance on July 30. Of course, there are some exceptions for mandatory compliance, such as an exception for small plan providers or for filing for an extension.

Penalties

To ensure compliance with HIPAA and to give the legislation some teeth, it carries some harsh penalties for not being in compliance. Companies can face fines of up to $25,000 for multiple violations of HIPAA rules within a calendar year, and intentionally violating HIPAA could garner a fine of $250,000 and up to 10 years in prison.

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Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about Peachpit products and services that can be purchased through this site.

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Collection and Use of Information


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Other Collection and Use of Information


Application and System Logs

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Web Analytics

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Security


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children


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Marketing


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

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Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information


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Sale of Personal Information


Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents


California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure


Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
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  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
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Links


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact


Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice


We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020