HIPAA Administrative Simplification
HIPAA Administrative Simplification
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a federal law that helps protect the privacy of individual health information. For individuals living with mental illness, this law is important, because it helps protect confidential mental health treatment records. The HIPAA Rules are designed to protect the privacy of all of an individual’s identifiable health information and to ensure that health information is available when needed for treatment and other appropriate purposes.
As practices and health care organizations become increasingly digitized, physicians must be aware of HIPAA’s Administrative Simplification provisions – and particularly the Privacy, Security, and Breach Notification requirements – that protect the confidentiality of their patients’ medical information. Physicians need to understand these rules and participate in a formal compliance plan designed to ensure all the requirements are met, including state requirements that go above and beyond federal mandates.
Standards for electronic transactions
HIPAA established a set of standardized transactions that health plans, clearinghouses, and providers must use when conducting business electronically to ensure uniformity in the communication of administrative information among stakeholders. Though HIPAA does not require providers to process transactions electronically, any provider that does must comply with these standards. The current version of the standard transactions is Accredited Standards Committee X12 version 5010.
In 2010, the Affordable Care Act mandated operating rules for industry participants to follow when conducting standard electronic transactions. These are guidelines for the electronic exchange of information not covered by the electronic transaction standards or their implementation specifications. The AMA regularly advocates with the Council for Affordable Quality Healthcare’s (CAQH) Committee on Operating Rules for Information Exchange (CORE) to develop rules that protect physicians’ interests and lessen administrative burdens. For more on operating rules, visit the CAQH CORE website.
Under HIPAA, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) adopted specific code sets for diagnoses and procedures to be used in all transactions. These include the Current Procedural Terminology (CPT®) codes for outpatient services/procedures, the Health Care Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) for ancillary services/procedures and the International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision (ICD-10) for diagnosis and hospital inpatient procedures.
HIPAA also required the development of standard identifiers for employers, health plans, providers and patients to be used in transactions. So far, HHS has only mandated identifiers for employers (the Employer Identification Number, or EIN) and providers (the National Provider Identifier, or NPI). For more on the NPI, visit the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) website.
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