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Knowingly Violating HIPAA is a Crime that Can Lead to Serious Penalties

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Published On: November 21, 2016 by CCS

Attorney generals and district attorneys around the country, are increasingly taking HIPAA violations seriously. Criminal charges for violating HIPAA are serious.

Did you know that the federal government can bring criminal charges against companies and company employees under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)? It can, and attorney generals and district attorneys around the country, are increasingly taking HIPAA violations seriously. Moreover, many states have parallel versions of the law that could create additional liability.

HIPAA Violations

Criminal penalties for a violation of HIPAA apply to “covered entities.” These are health plans, health care clearinghouses, and health care providers. Directors, employees, and officers of a covered entity can also be held liable, as can any other individuals that knowingly aid and abet criminal behavior.

Criminal charges for violating the HIPAA usually lead to prison time:

  • Anyone that knowingly commits data theft or healthcare fraud with either a malicious or commercial intent can be punished by up to ten years in prison.
  • Obtaining protected healthcare information by using false pretenses is a crime punishable by up to five years in prison.
  • Even criminal violations of HIPAA that are simply due to negligence are punishable by up to one year in prison.

HIPAA violations can lead to pretty severe civil penalties as well:

  • Under HIPAA, individuals and organizations found guilty of willful violations are given a mandatory fine of $50,000 per violation.
  • Violations due to negligence, but not willful neglect, are penalized by up to $50,000 per violation.
  • Even when there was no negligence and a violation was completely innocent, a fine of at least $100 and up to $50,000 per violation will apply.

If you are in the healthcare field, or buy and sell healthcare data, it is important to be aware of HIPAA and its provisions. If you have any questions about his issue, contact Colorado Computer Support at blake@coloradosupport.com or give us a call at 719.439.0599 to learn more.

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