HIPAA costs could quadruple Y2K bill

Hospitals could end up paying three to four times as much to comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) than they spent on the technology needed to prevent Y2K problems, according to a report by the international rating agency Fitch Inc. in New York City.

Analyst Rebecca Lageman said health care providers who don’t assess properly and budget for HIPAA requirements "will place themselves at risk for possible financial peril."

Fitch estimates that most of the costs associated with HIPAA will be in modifying existing information technology systems or purchasing new ones, hiring and retraining staff, and changing existing processes for maintaining patient privacy.

Lageman said she believes the government’s $5.8 billion cost estimate for HIPAA is a "far too conservative figure," adding that Fitch estimates the cost at more than $25 billion. The report is available at http://www.fitchratings.com.