Are you a business owner? Are you in charge of the day-to-day operations for your company, from payroll to health care benefits? If so, it’s important that you know about HIPAA Compliance.
HIPAA stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. It was enacted by Congress with the intent to protect employees who lose their jobs or leave employment voluntarily and then seek new employment, as well as their dependents. The law also provides protection against discrimination based on pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes or cancer. In general, HIPAA compliance means following federal laws when administering employee health insurance coverage and maintaining patient privacy under certain circumstances. It is not necessary to be an expert in medicine or law to understand HIPAA compliance. However, it is important that you are aware of your responsibilities as an employer under this law.
HIPAA Compliance Starts with Your Business
A company should always be in compliance with the federal laws affecting its business operations. Therefore, it’s essential that your business establish a plan for implementing HIPAA compliance. HIPAA guidelines become relevant to a company when it has 50 or more employees. But this law also applies to any organization, whether or not it is for-profit or non-profit, as well as government agencies and health care providers.
In addition, HIPAA compliance becomes relevant if you conduct electronic transactions that could affect the privacy of protected health information (PHI). You should know that HIPAA defines business associates as:
- Health care clearinghouses, and
- Any person or organization (whether or not a covered entity) that creates, receives, maintains, or transmits PHI in connection with providing a health care service to a covered entity.
HIPAA Compliance is in the Details
A company that is in compliance with HIPAA involves all employees in compliance efforts. Everyone should know when, where, and how they are responsible for HIPAA compliance. This means including employees in special meetings when there are changes or updates made to make sure everyone understands their roles under HIPAA. It also means having a standard plan for complying with HIPAA, which everyone understands and follows.
HIPAA compliance also involves creating methods to safeguard patient information from unauthorized access. This means making sure all employees handle PHI carefully, understand the company’s security policies, take advantage of online HIPAA training opportunities that can be done by various companies. They will provide the information needed to help employees comply with HIPAA standards.
Furthermore, HIPAA compliance means working with your business associates to ensure they are aware of HIPAA guidelines and complying with them when appropriate. It is up to you, as an employer, to know who the business associates are in your organization. Your employee handbook should include information on who will retain PHI within your organization so employees understand how to treat PHI.
HIPAA Compliance and the Workplace
Once you understand how HIPAA compliance affects your business, it will be easier to apply these guidelines. HIPAA is enforced by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). HHS states that employers are legally obligated to provide working conditions that are free from recognized hazards that may cause serious harm to employees. HHS also states that HIPAA compliance in the workplace includes complying with state workers’ compensation laws, which are intended to help injured employees return to work at the same salary after their injury.
HIPAA compliance also involves taking steps to help employees who are injured on the job. HHS has guidelines for workplace safety, which companies should follow to ensure they are in compliance with HIPAA guidelines.
HIPAA Compliance: Employees’ Rights and Responsibilities
Although employers are responsible for HIPAA compliance, employees are responsible for following HIPAA guidelines, too. It helps to know what your rights and responsibilities are under HIPAA.
- Employees have the right to know how their PHI will be used or shared within your organization.
- Employees must give written consent before their PHI can be transferred to another organization.
- Employees have the right to request a restriction on who can access PHI within your organization.
- Employees must verify that any person they authorize to access PHI is authorized by the company.
- If an employee suspects a violation of HIPAA guidelines in his or her organization, he or she must follow the reporting guidelines within your company.
- Employees must understand what HIPAA compliance means and how it affects their day-to-day actions in the workplace.
HIPAA compliance is a detailed process that requires the cooperation of all employees within an organization. Employees should be made aware of their rights and responsibilities under HIPAA, as well as any changes or updates to HIPAA compliance policies. In addition, businesses must work with their business associates to ensure they are also in compliance with HIPAA guidelines. It is up to employers to know who their business associates are and what PHI will be retained by these organizations. Finally, HHS has stated that companies must provide working conditions that are free from recognized hazards that may cause serious harm to employees. This means taking steps to help injured employees return to work safely and following state workers’ compensation laws.