The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was a game changer back in 1996 and it continues to do so until today. When it comes to running businesses that deal with health information, you have to eat, breathe, and sleep HIPAA. What it’s done is set up rules and regulations that all companies must abide by if they wish to continue their practice. This introduces uniformity, regularity, and accountability – but we’ll get to that. If you’re a small business, HIPAA may seem a bit imposing. This misunderstanding can be the cause of indecisions and bad decisions. But just how does HIPAA impact the workplace? Here are some examples:

Clients of these businesses are given the rights to view their information on the database, receive copies of it, and are likewise informed should their information be shared. Businesses have the moral and legal obligation to carry out these requests without much ado. Even in the event that a client may already have transferred to a different practitioner, these conditions still stand, granting long-term and negligence-proof protection of the information. Understandably so – information such as addresses, names of family members, and the like must be kept under lock and key for all intents and purposes.

HIPAA allows for information transfer but at a very delicate process. Said process involves informing the client along the way at every interval, effectively granting him/her a presence as the information moves along. HIPAA provides for the Privacy Rule. This rule enumerates and defines the standards by which health information is released.Even information travelling within the company from manager to supervisor is closely monitored such that any information leak will easily be traced and quickly addressed. That includes the legal repercussions. HIPAA is designed to be an ironclad tunnel through which information comes and goes, always observable and always accountable to the benefit of the client. So much so that even employers asking about their employees will be denied access without the consent of the latter.

This does not mean that employers are left without any means of counter-checking their employees’ claims. The HIPAA also allows for procedures by which employers may request doctor’s notes to accommodate requests for sick leaves, insurance claims, legal concerns, and eligibility for company programs among many others but always to a specific purpose. The HIPAA essentially protects employees from any entities who may be looking to fish for information. This makes it so that the power is only used defensively; HIPAA was never intended to allow footholds for con artists or scams in the health industry. Only the client and select persons operating the information repository have direct access to the information and are always held accountable for such. Personas such as insurance companies, the workplace or school, and law enforcement agencies are generally granted the exceptions through the abovementioned procedures in compliance with HIPAA – but everyone else is met with a wall of legal protection.

These are but a few things to note about HIPAA. The law makes no exception: as a small business practitioner, it is the greatest necessity to learn the ins and outs of HIPAA. Make sure that your company operates at the legal optimum and in compliance with all the stipulations that guarantee your employees’ privacy.

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Rey Palmares

Rey Palmares

Rey Palmares is a writer for Xilium and at the same time a student of the law in the Philippines. His work in Xilium is toward his dreams of being a lawyer and also publishing a book someday. While he is relatively new, his informative and entertaining style of writing shows that Xilium has become a home to the very shy writer.