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Home > Privacy and Business > Medical Privacy > Select Laws and Regulations > HIPAA Privacy Regulations

HIPAA Privacy Regulations

Privacy regulations issued by the Department of Health and Human Services under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act purport to protect the privacy of American patients' health information in several ways.

As summarized by HHS, the regulations are intended to give consumers control over their health information; create "boundaries" around how medical records can be used and released; ensure the security of personal health information; and establish accountability for the use and release of medical records. The regulations also "balance public responsibility with privacy protections," meaning that they allow many uses of patient information without consent.

The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that its privacy regulations will cost $17.6 billion dollars. In a variety of ways, the new privacy regulations will restrict the ability of health care providers and their customers to obtain efficiencies and higher quality care through innovation, costs that are not considered in HHS' estimate.

Health care providers have always been under important legal obligations to safeguard patient information — obligations that the HIPAA regulations dismiss as a "patchwork." Existing law gives patients the right to sue health care providers who invade their privacy or publish private information about them. New privacy standards will not add to privacy protection; instead, they will add new health care costs and bureaucracy.


Privacy Rules Could Muddle Flow of Information, by Gail Liberman and Alan Lavine, Pittsburgh Post Gazette (June 7, 2004).

Heartache Over HIPAA, Center for Individual Freedom (May 15, 2003).

Health and Human Services “Privacy” Standards: The Coming Destruction of American Medical Privacy, by Charlotte Twight, The Independent Review (Spring 2002).

Administrative Simplification Web site, Department of Health and Human Services.

Comments on Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information Regulatory Studies Program, Mercatus Center, George Mason University (February 17, 2000)

Letter from Congressman Ron Paul to Department of Health and Human Services (December 9, 1999)

Comments? (Subject: HIPAAPrivacy)

[updated 06/07/04]

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