Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996

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Who and what is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act

This refers to the Federal law governing health information. It spells out the principles for privacy of health information. This is the addition to setting up the standards for exchanging health information through data (Chatterjee, 2013). The act aims at enabling the ease in portability of health insurance in cases where people change employers. Furthermore, the act works towards creating accountability measures for health related matters (McGraw, 2013). This helps in reducing on unnecessary costs and wastage of resources. The strategy in the act further helps in detecting and reducing fraud cases (Harper et al, 2014).  This level of accountability helps in improving efficiency of the health sector. This happens through the simplification of the administration of the sector (Bunce, 2013).

The main aim of the act involved the integration of technology in the health care sector. Following the great success and revolution that technology had brought to other sectors of the society, the health care information system had to face this integration (Chatterjee, 2013). This was projected as a potential ground for improving the transfer of the data of people. However, the transfer of the information had to happen under strict regulations (Harper et al, 2014). These regulations could help in maintaining the privacy of the documents of patients in the healthcare sector. The rules in the act included the definition of the standard formats for exchanging information across computers (Bunce, 2013). 

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The Act became public law as of 1996. This followed the enactment of the act on the August of that year (Harper et al. 2014). This was done by the 104th congress of the United States which consisted of the House of Representatives and the Senate. The act was in public law 104-191 (Chatterjee, 2013). The drafting of the privacy law by the HHS clsely followed. This is because the congress did not enact such a law. However, it was adopted in 2002 after drafting and presenting it to the public for ratifications (Wiener & Gilliland, 2011). 

Losses and who suffering in case the regulations are not enforced

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act intended to propel the health care sector to the world of commerce. Its weaving sought to evolve the system into a more reliable and affordable endeavor (Bunce, 2013). The portability of the insurance sought to make it easier for the clients or patients to enjoy a better transfer mechanism backed by the improvement in technology (Chatterjee, 2013). Therefore, the patients form the first group of people to lose in case of the failure of the implementation of the regulations. In addition, they stand to lose on the transferability of their information. This has economic implications since they have to undergo a fresh compilation of health information every time they change their service providers (Harper et al, 2014).

The healthcare sector equally has a lot to lose insofar as economic implications are concerned. This is because the Act also sought to initiate a standardization of medical information. This would help in creating a level ground for improving the health care experience especially in the nursing category (Harper et al, 2014). Furthermore, it means a fall in spending towards capturing research data. Failure of enforcing the regulations, therefore, means a stagnation of the medical care services (Harper et al, 2014).

Penalty for non-compliance

It is extremely imperative to understand and appreciate the fact that the Act defines the different types of violations. It recognizes that some of the violations might occur without the knowledge of the person (Harper et al, 2014). However, it spells out that the lack of knowledge comes from lack of diligence. Other causes for violation might include violation for a noble causse and not neglect of the Act in addition to the willful neglect by the individual (Chatterjee, 2013).

Section 1176(a) of the act requires that members who defy the provisions of the Act face a financial penalty (Bunce, 2013). The penalty must not exceed 100 dollars per violation. However, the act places a maximum of 25,000 dollars in terms of penalty in a single calendar year (Bunce, 2013). The implication here is that contravention of any provisions of the Act can attract heavy penalties. Therefore, it calls for compliance from all the stakeholders. This includes the patient, the health care providers and the other investors in the sector such as health insurance providers (Harper et al, 2014).

In the case where the individual did not know the violation, he or she consequently gets exempted from the penalty. However, this possibility is dependent on the level to which the secretary is persuaded that violators of the provisions were ignorant of its relevance and implications. Persons who violated the act under a noble cause also have the privilege of not facing the penalty (Wiener & Gilliland, 2011). Nevertheless, the person in this case has to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the cause of the violation had reasonable grounds. Exemption is further applicable to persons who correct their mistakes within the stipulated 30 days period (Bunce, 2013).

The greatest penalty concerns the willful and wrong disclosure of the health information of a person. This attracts a fine of 50,000 dollars or an imprisonment of up to a year (Bunce, 2013). In other circumstances, the violation might attract both punishments. The penalty increases in the case where the violator extracted the information under false pretense (Chatterjee, 2013). The penalty in this scenario rises to 100,000 dollars or a service of a 5 years term in prison. Persons who extract the information for personal gain and other malicious reasons have to pay up to 250,000 dollars or serve a 10 years sentence in jail. Aggravating circumstances might call for both penalties (Bunce, 2013). a

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