HIPAA (Rules for Health Information)

HIPAA: Rules about the use and protection of your private health information:

At your first visit you will be required to sign a statement that you have received information about your rights under HIPAA. This is now a routine practice for all health care visits, including counseling and mental health care. It sets national standards for the use and protection of your confidential health information.


“HIPAA” is an acronym for the Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act of 1996 (August 21), Public Law 104-191, which amended the Internal Revenue Service Code of 1986. Also known as the Kennedy-Kassebaum Act, the Act includes a section, Title II, entitled Administrative Simplification, requiring:

  1. Improved efficiency in healthcare delivery by standardizing electronic data interchange, and
  2. Protection of confidentiality and security of health data through setting and enforcing standards.

More specifically, HIPAA called upon the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to publish new rules that will ensure:

  1. Standardization of electronic patient health, administrative and financial data
  2. Unique health identifiers for individuals, employers, health plans, and health care providers
  3. Security standards protecting the confidentiality and integrity of “individually identifiable health information,” past, present, or future.

Who is affected? Virtually all healthcare organizations including all healthcare providers, health plans, public health authorities, healthcare clearinghouses, and self-insured employers as well as life insurers, information systems vendors, various service organizations, and universities.

Are there penalties? HIPAA calls for severe civil and criminal penalties for non-compliance.

How does this affect my counseling? We meet the compliance requirements for HIPPA which include:

  • Comprehensive assessment of our business privacy practices, information security systems and procedures, and use of electronic transactions.
  • Our electronic billing service is secure and HIPPA compliant. If you wish you may opt out of e-commerce by asking our front desk staff. Infrequently, and only at the request and initiation of clients I will respond to emails. Our policies, processes, and procedures are intended to protect privacy, security, and patient’s rights.
  • Our business associate agreements support HIPAA objectives.
  • We are developing and maintaining a secure technical and physical information infrastructure.
  • We update information systems to safeguard protected health information (PHI) and enable use of standard claims and related transactions.
  • We train all workforce members on HIPPA.
  • We have developed and maintain an internal privacy and security management and enforcement infrastructure, including providing a Privacy Officer and a Security Officer, Elizabeth Ritzman, elizabeth@elizabethritzman.comĀ 

More information about HIPPA is available at www.hhs.gov/ocr/hipaa/