HIPAA Violations and Enforcement
Failure to comply with HIPAA can result in civil and criminal penalties (42 USC § 1320d-5).
The “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009”(ARRA) that was signed into law on February 17, 2009, established a tiered civil penalty structure for HIPAA violations (see below). The Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) still has discretion in determining the amount of the penalty based on the nature and extent of the violation and the nature and extent of the harm resulting from the violation. The Secretary is still prohibited from imposing civil penalties (except in cases of willful neglect) if the violation is corrected within 30 days (this time period may be extended).
|Individual did not know (and by exercising reasonable diligence would not have known) that he/she violated HIPAA||$100 per violation, with an annual maximum of $25,000 for repeat violations (Note: maximum that can be imposed by State Attorneys General regardless of the type of violation)||$50,000 per violation, with an annual maximum of $1.5 million|
|HIPAA violation due to reasonable cause and not due to willful neglect||$1,000 per violation, with an annual maximum of $100,000 for repeat violations||$50,000 per violation, with an annual maximum of $1.5 million|
|HIPAA violation due to willful neglect but violation is corrected within the required time period||$10,000 per violation, with an annual maximum of $250,000 for repeat violations||$50,000 per violation, with an annual maximum of $1.5 million|
|HIPAA violation is due to willful neglect and is not corrected||$50,000 per violation, with an annual maximum of $1.5 million||$50,000 per violation, with an annual maximum of $1.5 million|
In June 2005, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) clarified who can be held criminally liable under HIPAA. Covered entities and specified individuals, as explained below, whom “knowingly” obtain or disclose individually identifiable health information in violation of the Administrative Simplification Regulations face a fine of up to $50,000, as well as imprisonment up to one year. Offenses committed under false pretenses allow penalties to be increased to a $100,000 fine, with up to five years in prison. Finally, offenses committed with the intent to sell, transfer, or use individually identifiable health information for commercial advantage, personal gain or malicious harm permit fines of $250,000, and imprisonment for up to ten years.