Is the HIPAA Law Different in Each State?

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HIPPA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, is a federal law that is the same regardless of state. Each state has, however, enacted its own privacy acts that may supersede HIPPA under certain conditions.

HIPAA is a set of privacy rules that govern how health-care providers can use protected health care information. This information includes anything that is individually identifiable, such as the patient's name, medical condition, care plan or payment information. Before the enactment of HIPPA, each state had its own privacy rules regarding this information. The plan was enacted to provide a basis from which each state could work from to provide some level of equalized protection throughout the nation. State law can supersede the HIPPA only if the state law provides greater protection to patients. If any portion of state law offers less protection, then HIPPA is the determining factor.

HIPPA deals primarily with rules covering health insurance coverage and portability, along with its privacy rules. The act covers group health care plans as well as some individual health care plans, and specifies how these plans can deal with pre-existing conditions and the provision of continuing coverage for those leaving a group plan. In terms of privacy, the act determines not only what information can be shared in certain forms, but also with whom the information can be shared. It also helps define health care fraud.