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“The only thing necessary for these diseases to the triumph is for good people and governments to do nothing.”


Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

What is HIPAA?

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 was signed by President Clinton August 21, 1996 as Public Law 104-191. Included in the law is a separate section intended to reduce the administrative costs of health care. Final regulations on transactions and code sets were released on August 17, 2000 for implementation by October 16, 2002. 

The law requires all health plans, including ERISA, health care clearinghouses and any dentist who transmits health information in an electronic transaction to use a standard format. Those plans and providers that choose not to use the electronic standards can use a clearinghouse to comply with the requirement. Providers' paper transactions are not subject to this requirement.

In an effort  to educate our members on the implications of HIPAA the ADA will post content on this page to assist its members in actively participating in HIPAA educational opportunities.


Featured Content:

Questions about HIPAA Privacy?
The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has posted a list of frequently asked questions about HIPAA privacy. The questions are intended to debunk many of the myths circulating about compliance requirements. Examples of the questions many dental professional have asked include:

  • Can offices use patient sign-in sheets or call out the names of patients in their waiting rooms?
  • Can a dental office FAX patient medical information to another dentist's or physician's office?
  • Will the Privacy Rule allow the office to place charts in a plastic box outside an exam room?
  • Does the Privacy Rule permit covered entities or their collection agencies to obtain payment from parties other than the patient, e.g., from spouses or guardians?
  • Is a health care provider going to be considered a business associate of a health plan or other payer?
  • Are janitorial services business associates?

ADA Comments on Proposed Privacy Modifications
(This letter will appear in a separate browser window)

Privacy Seminar and Privacy Kit Now Available from the ADA 


ADA Preparations for HIPAA

The American Dental Association is actively involved in preparing material that will facilitate our members' compliance with the Administrative Simplification provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). You may download the memo from Dr. James B. Bramson regarding steps that are already underway.

HIPAA Privacy Guidance for Dentists
The American Dental Association has prepared a summary of HIPAA privacy rule clarifications. You may download the memo from Dr. James B. Bramson that addresses many of your concerns with the final regulation. 

Specifically, the guidance confirms that soundproofing of dental offices is not required, the privacy official may also be the office manager, the training requirement can be met by providing each new employee with a copy of its privacy policy and documenting that the policies have been reviewed, appointment reminder postcards are not a violation, patients can be greeted by name in the waiting room and free toothbrushes are not marketing. As the ADA and other health care providers requested, appropriate changes to the Privacy Rule will be issued later this year. The ADA will comment on those changes as it has with previous proposed rules concerning privacy of protected health information. Updated information will continue to be posted at

ADA Comments on Proposed Privacy Modifications
(This letter will appear in a separate browser window)

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