The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 is a federal law establishing standards to ensure the confidentiality of individually identifiable health information. These national standards are designed to protect an individual’s protected health information and give individuals increased access to their medical records.
The federal rules generally prohibit a covered entity from using or disclosing protected health information unless authorized by an individual, except where this prohibition would result in unnecessary interference with access to quality health care or with certain other important public benefits or national priorities. To avoid interfering with an individual’s access to quality health care or the efficient payment for such health care, the privacy rules permit a covered entity to use and disclose protected health information, with certain limits and protections, for treatment, payment and health care operations.
The Notice of Privacy Practices describes how the agency can use and disclose medical information collected about people receiving services. The notice also explains how people can obtain access to this information.