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HIPAA compliance in medical debt collection. 

HIPAA compliance in medical debt collection. 

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was passed in 1996. HIPAA along with the Fair Debt Collections Privacy Act (FDCPA) has made a powerful impact on the legality of the USA. While both of these acts were passed in the same year, amendments have been made over time. The most recent amendment in HIPAA was in 2002, and in FDCPA was in 2010. 

What is HIPAA?

For many, HIPAA is associated with medical billing when one visits a physician’s clinic or gets a procedure done at a healthcare facility. From the patient’s perspective, HIPAA protects their information from getting abused. This is why you may come across HIPAA-related medical debt collection more frequently. 

HIPAA also aims to prevent fraud and identity theft and caters to any limitation patients witness on healthcare coverage. 

HIPAA and Medical Billing

HIPAA has a significant standing in medical privacy. It establishes standards for various medical transactions which include:

  • Treatment Codes
  • Diagnosis Codes
  • Insurance Claims formats
  • Different Billing formats
  • Transaction Codes

The aim is to make the billing process simple and more organized. HIPAA focuses on many entities such as hospitals, emergency rooms, Insurance companies, medical clinics, etc. 

HIPAA and Privacy

HIPAA has strict guidelines medical providers and their facilities need to abide by to safeguard the patient’s information. This has a direct impact on medical billing as well. HIPAA ensures that health information is protected and cannot be misused. It also establishes regulations as to how the information can be rightfully utilized. 

In case of a violation or breach of any medical information, there are dire consequences including lawsuits and heavy fines. This greatly impacts medical billing as it transfers sensitive and financial information to other parties. 

HIPAA and Collection Agencies

HIPAA regulations have an impact on collection agencies that specialize in medical debt. Every agency must sign a HIPAA Business Associate Agreement and comply with the regulations which legally bind them to protect the health information of the patients. To recover the debt, the agencies do not need a detailed version of a patient’s health information unless it is required to collect the debt. They must also ensure that they protect health information from unauthorized systems and access. 

If a patient believes that a collection agency has access to unnecessary personal information, they can use this as a negotiating point. In case of a HIPAA violation, a collection agency can be asked to delete the paid debt altogether instead of just marking it paid. A paid will count against the credit score, however, a deleted debt will not. 

What Else?

HIPAA’s original function is to modernize the flow of medical information. This includes protecting personal information and ensuring it is only accessed by those who legitimately need it. It is significant for HIPAA to remain in place to make the job of collecting and managing medical bills. Moreover, it is in place to protect patients’ right to privacy as in traditional practices collection agencies have used unconventional methods of recovery. If medical debt collection does not abide by HIPAA regulations, the agency might come across legal action. 

In Conclusion

HIPAA has become a significant act to maintain regulation amid medical billing for both healthcare providers and patients. HospAid bears in mind all the important aspects and prioritizes safety and privacy above all. 

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