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Definition: HIPAA

(Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act of 1996, Public Law 104-191) Also known as the "Kennedy-Kassebaum Act," this U.S. law protects employees' health insurance coverage when they change or lose their jobs (Title I) and provides standards for patient health, administrative and financial data interchange (Title II). The latter also governs the privacy and security of health information records and transactions.

Developed by the Department of Health and Human Services, HIPAA took effect in 2001 with compliance required in phases up to 2004. For more information, visit www.hhs.gov/ocr/hipaa. The HIPAA document is www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-104publ191/html/PLAW-104publ191.htm. See privacy, HITECH and healthcare IT.