Aetna’s HITECH Approach Is an Insult to Brokers

Take a look at the ridiculous approach Aetna has taken to HITECH with their brokers. A client sent me this gem of an email – “New obligations for brokers under ARRA regulations”.

They have had a full year to educate their brokers and help them get ready for HITECH. Yet a 181 word email was sent out on:

  • A Friday
  • Before a holiday weekend- 2/12 –
  • 5 days before the HIPAA HITECH changes become Federal law for their producers
  • referring to ARRA not HIPAA HITECH like everyone else is

Clearly trying to slip it in with little attention since most brokers likely won’t read it until or overlook it entirely as they catch up on Tuesday morning.

Looks just like politician’s dealing with bad news on Fridays hoping it won’t garner the scrutiny it would during the week.

The amendment to their producer agreement is  added as a unilateral amendment.

As you can see below there is nothing on the Aetna website on HITECH. The agreement is posted under ARRA and their HIPAA info has not been updated for this year’s changes. So there is NO resource on their site for their brokers or their customers who also need to get BA agreements in place with their brokers.

I don’t think we are reading the same statutes and rules here and I know that Aetna has better lawyers than this – and much better leadership in Mark Bertolini than most of their competitors.

What is most interesting about this communication is not just its purposely late release on a holiday weekend but its clear implication that the broker is “directly accountable” to HHS and as a “covered entity” Aetna has nothing to do with their brokers as “business associates” being in full compliance with the law. Aetna’s liabilities as a CE to their clients and brokers is a 2 way street in terms of abiding by HIPAA and HITECH and in most BA agreements I have seen the insurers clearly acknowledge this…and sent them out to their brokers from 45 to 90 days ago – even if they were unilateral.

If a BA had a major breach the insurer as CE is accountable for it as well. Penalties would apply to the broker but also potentially to the insurer – Aetna et al – as well.

I know insurers cannot be charged with malpractice  but their total disregard for helping educate their brokers and customers and simply trying to slide in the minimum they feel they need to cover their own butts speaks volumes to me about their commitment to truly protecting the data of all their customers and insureds.

Is providing no help or support to your sales partners and customers and trying to slide in your changes 5 days before the law takes effect “willful neglect” under the law? Not likely but it shows a lack of respect to brokers and clients alike.

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