The privacy law of Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) protects the fundamental rights of individuals and prevents discrimination and breach of privacy in the American Health Care system.
HIPAA OCR or Office of Civil Rights has been given the responsibility to protect patients from race, nationality, age, gender, religion and disability based discrimination. This office ensures that a health care provider, whether it’s a doctor, Health maintenance organizations or an insurance firm, provides fair and equal treatment to every patient who walks into their premises.
The entities which come under the jurisdiction HIPAA OCR are Hospitals, Medicaid, health clinics, Medicare agencies, nursing homes, Doctors’ offices, Welfare programs, Children’s health programs, Day care centers, pharmacies, mental health and developmental disabilities agencies, Alcohol and drug treatment centers and Adoption agencies.
HIPAA OCR has a Civil Rights Division that promotes equal access and opportunity for people in health care programs and stops them from facing discrimination. Civil Rights Division of OCR ensures fair treatment by enforcing laws which prohibit discrimination and prohibition of discrimination against individuals with various disabilities medical care and other social service programs. These laws and regulations are applicable on both, state and local governments as well as federal government.
OCR also investigates complaints of violations of various rules of HIPAA. Any individual that feels that he or she has been discriminated against on the basis of their religion, race, gender, disability, origin or nationality can file complaint in the OCR. Any activity that has been prohibited under HIPAA civil rights section can be and should be reported to the HIPAA Office of Civil Rights.
Besides this, HIPAA OCR also conducts periodical checks and inspections of various institutions and covered entities. This is done to ensure that the rules and regulations enforced by OCR against discrimination are being complied with by the various entities. If OCR finds any incompliance or violation of any such law or regulation, then it can take strict action.
OCR is also the authority responsible for providing technical support to institutions. It helps covered entities to set up the system and procedures necessary to ensure compliance with HIPAA OCR regulations.
Office of Civil Rights protects the basic and fundamental rights on an individual, which is to get fair treatment as and when he or she needs it.