The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is a federal law that:
Provides the ability to transfer and continue health insurance coverage for millions of American workers and their families when they change or lose their jobs;
Reduces health care fraud and abuse;
Mandates industry-wide standards for health care information on electronic billing and other processes; and
Requires the protection and confidential handling of protected health information (PHI)
HIPAA sets rules about who can look at and receive your health information. This law gives you rights over your health information and when it can be shared. It also requires your doctors, pharmacists and other health care providers, and your health plan to explain your rights and how your health information can be used or shared.
HIPAA required the Secretary of the U.S.Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop regulations protecting the privacy and security of certain health information. To fulfill this requirement, HHS published what are commonly known as the HIPAA Privacy Rule and the HIPAA Security Rule.