United States Public Law 104-191, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, amends the internal revenue code so as to, in the language of the act:
…improve portability and continuity of health insurance coverage…combat waste, fraud, and abuse in health insurance and health care delivery… promote the use of medical savings accounts…improve access to long-term care and coverage….simplify the administration of health insurance and other purposes.
HIPAA Research Papers Requirements
HIPAA research papers list substantive provisions of the law. Inter alia these include:
- A provision for portability of health insurance for workers who leave their jobs;
- The setting of a limit of 12 months on a health plan's ability to exclude coverage from workers because of pre-existing health conditions;
- A limiting of medical malpractice awards;
- Provision for civil and criminal sanctions against employers who disclose information to third parties about an employee's health without the employee's permission to do so;
- An increase in the health insurance tax deduction for the self-employed;
- A provision which allows the dying to draw on their life insurance while they are still alive;
- The setting up of a pilot program for the use of medical savings accounts;
- Requirements that employers revise their documents related to, and change their administration of, certain aspects of the benefits mandated by the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA). HIPAA research studies note that HIPAA also makes major changes in long-term care (LTC) coverage, excluding such coverage from cafeteria type benefit plans, and designating some LTC policies as "qualified," a designation that carries substantial tax benefits for both insurers and beneficiaries.
HR Management Perspective
From the foregoing it will be clear that HIPAA, when viewed from the perspective of human resources management, should be considered to be a major piece of legislation, one that imposes new burdens on benefit management but which also makes it easier for companies to find health insurance plans that will cover their workers. Meeting the requirements imposed by HIPAA, however, involves a fair degree of complexity. The truth of this is amply attested to by the fact that a cottage industry has grown up on the internet with companies offering advice on HIPAA related issues.