New HIPAA Requirements — Impact on Employers and Health Plans

August 1, 2003 Published Work
The Compliance and Regulatory Newsletter
New technology has transformed the way society manages information, but has also raised significant privacy con-cerns,particularly when it relates to confidential personal matters such as health information. You undoubtedly have heard about the new HIPAA privacy requirements, but you should be aware of the impact of HIPAA on employers, which may affect their employment policies and practices and the administration of their health plans. Federal privacy regulations issued in 2000 pursuant to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) require sweeping changes in the way the health care system manages health information. Health care providers,health care clearinghouses and health plans (known as "covered entities") are directly governed by these requirements,and the government regulators who wrote the HIPAA rules emphasize that they do not have statutory authority to regulate employers. However, depending on the structure of your health plan and your employment-related needs for health information, the regulations can significantly affect your operations. Understanding who is covered by the HIPAA regu-lations and what information is included in their reach can help you sort through the HIPAA morass.