HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) Happy 10th Birthday

HIPPA turned 10 on Aug. 21, 2006.

I remember HIPPA's entry quite well -- some of us were concerned that providing alternative medicine might in itself be considered medical fraud under the pending legislation, and in response, legislative history to clarify the point was subsequently inserted.

More generally, HIPPA has created a lot of work for the medical services industry--and for lawyers.

"Designed to improve the portability of health coverage, increase the privacy and security of health care information, and reduce health care costs by standardizing the processing of health care transactions, HIPAA sought to bring consistency and standardization to the patchwork of state laws affecting health care portability, privacy, security and administrative procedures." So writes the Memphis Business Journal in Still a Work in Progress, HIPAA Celebrates a Decade of Protections.

"Jointly enforced by the IRS, the Department of Labor and the Department of Health and Human Services, HIPAA's administrative simplification requirements were intended to reduce health costs by standardizing the electronic processing of health care claims in three areas: privacy standards, security standards and transaction standards.

"In addition, HIPAA's portability rules affect health coverage by making it more portable for individuals who change jobs, by restricting how health plans apply pre-existing condition exclusions."

The article observes that a recent report indicated 20,124 grievances made to the Office of Civil Rights concerning HIPPA violations.

Thus, "it may take another decade to fully assess HIPAA's true affect on the fabric of the health care system."