What is HIPAA, and what rights does it grant me?

HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. HIPAA established special protections for certain people -- called "federally eligible individuals" or "HIPAA eligible individuals" -- when they lose group health coverage. Once people become HIPAA-eligible, they are guaranteed an offer of at least two health insurance policies that do not impose pre-existing condition exclusion periods. HIPAA is silent on what people can be charged for such coverage.

HIPAA's requirement to guarantee issue coverage with no pre-existing conditions varies between states. In some states, HIPAA rules apply to all private insurance companies that sell coverage in the individual health insurance market. Some states, however, have made alternative arrangements to guarantee these HIPAA protections only from the state high-risk pool. Private insurers in these states are still free to medically underwrite their policies and deny applicants and impose pre-ex periods, even for HIPAA eligible individuals.

A number of states also limit how much insurers can charge HIPAA eligible individuals (and often other residents) for coverage.
Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine

HIPAA, though it sounds like it might be a female hippo, is actually short for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. HIPAA protects the privacy of your medical records since the law states that it is illegal to share your health information with anyone not involved with your care, unless you give the A-OK in writing.

HIPAA also gives you a number of important rights, including:

  • The right to see and get a copy of your healthcare records.
  • The right to get written information that tells you how your health
           information may be used and shared.
  • The right to know when and why your healthcare information was
  • The right to have your healthcare records corrected.
  • The right to decide if you want to allow your healthcare information
           to be used or shared for purposes such as for marketing.


Continue Learning about Health Insurance

News: US Uninsured Rate Climbs Above 12%
News: US Uninsured Rate Climbs Above 12%
According to recent research by Gallup and Sharecare, the percentage of US adults without health insurance increased to 12.3 percent during the third ...
Read More
Does the restriction on annual limits apply to all benefits?
The restriction on annual limits is a provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (P...
More Answers
What are the tax benefits of a health savings account (HSA)?
There are several tax benefits of a health savings account (HSA), an account or trust you set up wit...
More Answers
What is health insurance?
Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhDDr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Health insurance is a formal agreement to provide and/or pay for medical care. The health insurance ...
More Answers

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.