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Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was passed by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Clinton in 1996. There were two main concerns behind the law. The first, later remedied by the Affordable Health Care Act, was related to employees fearing to switch jobs due to the potential of losing medical insurance coverage for preexisting health conditions such as diabetes or hypertension. HIPAA provided increased protection to employees in that situation.

The second concern behind the law was the increasing use of electronic storage of medical records. Such storage eases communications between, for example, the patient’s health care provider and the insurance company. However, it also increases the risk of sensitive health care information about a particular patient being shared with ...

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