Skip to Main Content

Office of Mental Health

Information for Consumers
General Rules

The 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a federal law designed to reform health care coverage by

  • improving the portability and continuity of health insurance;
  • combating waste in health care delivery;
  • simplifying the administration of health insurance; and
  • safeguarding the privacy and confidentiality of patient information.

The law requires health care organizations - providers, plans and payers - to adopt national standards for the electronic processing of patient health information. Its main purpose is to simplify the automated transfer of administrative and financial health care data by replacing the many non-standard formats now being used with a national set of standard transaction forms. HIPAA also requires health care organizations to protect and safeguard the privacy and confidentiality of patient health information as long as it is in their possession.

The provisions of HIPAA are broad and far-reaching. They will change the way in which your health care provider and health plan will interact with you.

To learn more about these changes, select one of the many links located on the vertical navigation bar to your left. If you want to learn more about the specific privacy provisions, click on 'Privacy'. The 'Privacy' link, in turn, opens up new links that connect you to other valuable HIPAA websites and materials.