Q & A – What is HIPAA?

Q: What is HIPAA?

A: The original focus of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”) was making health insurance more portable for employees who changed jobs or their family status. When employees lose coverage, the portability regulations require that a certificate of creditable coverage be issued. This certificate must indicate the length and type of prior coverage and may protect an individual from pre-existing condition exclusions.

The Administrative Simplification Regulations, separate from the Act, are designed to decrease fraud in the health care system by creating federal standard codes for electronic health care claims. While it hoped that standardizing codes would create a more efficient system, Congress was also concerned about protecting individuals’ health care information. Thus, Congress enacted the privacy rules as part of the Administrative Simplification Regulations.