Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: October 22, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412956260 | Print ISBN: 9781412916523 | Online ISBN: 9781412956260| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was passed by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Clinton in 1996. There were two main concerns behind the law. The first is related to employees fearing to switch jobs due to the potential of losing medical insurance coverage for preexisting health problems such as diabetes or hypertension. HIPAA provides increased protection to employees in that situation. The second concern behind the law was the increasing use of electronic storage of medical records. Such storage eases communications between, for example, the patient's health care provider and insurance company. However, it also increases the risk of sensitive health care information about a particular patient being shared with the wrong parties. Often, private medical records must pass through a number of hands during activities such as the processing of insurance claims. Even more hands are involved with the complex decisionmaking processes ...