Archive for the ‘Insurance’ category

Brokers Procrastinating? HITECH Regs Will End That Soon

April 28, 2010

If like most brokers you still have not gotten compliant with HIPAA HITECH at least some of your major excuses will be ending soon. HHS will issue final regs on a number of HITECH items including BA penalties an enforcement next Month.

If you are still hoping that somehow brokers and benefits consultants and the work they do for clients will be magically exempted you can end that wishful thinking now. The regs will not change the law only get more specific on it and exempting any group that handles confidential employee data is simply not going to happen, especially now that healthcare reform has passed and it simplification provisions call for common data for plans by 2014.

In particular encryption of data is definitely not going to be changed. That is a given.

RadarMail 360 has options for all size organizations from solopreneurs to the largest firms.

For less than a buck a user per day we can have you up and running with the best encryption solution in the benefits and healthcare industry in less than 48 hours.

Why are you still procrastinating and leaving your firm open to willful neglect penalties and bad press for your firm?

Contact us today and solve your problem easily and cost effectively.

To Aetna’s CEO – Did you Read the Bill?

March 30, 2010

It looks like the CEO of Aetna was not well prepared for a Business Week Interview. Here is Mr. Williams comment:

Will insurance premiums go up? (BW)
The answer is yes, and some of the things that will drive those premiums are significant additional taxes the industry will ultimately have to pay in the first year.

The problem with this comment is that is flat out wrong and misleading. One might call it a lie.

There are NO new taxes on Insurers until 2013 per the Tax Foundation.

Remember Aetna is the same insurer that showed such respect for the new HIPAA HITECH law that they didn’t even communicate with their producers until days before its 2/17/2010 deadline.

At least Cigna CEO, David Cordani offers a bit more honest but still self serving appraisal of why costs increase in an interview with Neil Cavuto:

Insurance commissioners in every state will continue to be very diligent…the underlining premium costs are driven by underlining health care costs and in an environment where emergency room utilization and costs have quadruped in five years, use of MRIs have doubled in the last five years, biomedical utilization is growing rapidly. The costs will continue to grow and that’s the opportunity that wasn’t addressed.

Once again we see one of the major players in health insurance, who according to him represents 35,ooo employees not telling the truth.

This is why people find it hard to trust any insurer when even the simplest facts are disregarded.

Healthcare Gets Really Personal – Targets, Cut Gas Lines, Threats ..

March 25, 2010

I think we all consider healthcare a personal matter but now the Tea Party and Republican hate mongers have taken the meaning of personal to a whole new level. We have already covered the ugliness of the weekend protests in my earlier post...

  1. Spitting on members of Congress
  2. Calling Congressman the “N” word
  3. Calling Barney Frank a faggot
  4. Threatening a Hispanic congressman
  5. “Baby Killer” yelled at Bart Stupak on the floor of Congress.

Now we have even more to report:

  1. Half Governor Sarah Palin telling supporters on Twitter to “reload” and posting a map of 18 Congressman with rifle scope targets on them as people to try and unseat in the fall elections
  2. VA Congessman Perriello’s brothers home address was posted online for protesters to “pay a visit to”  instead of his own had a gas line into the house cut. Thanks God these idiots forgot the matches.
  3. Minority Leader  – “Hell no we can’t” – Boehner saying this in an interview that Rep. Driehaus  if he supported healthcare.

“may be a dead man” and that he “can’t go home to the west side of Cincinnati” because “the Catholics will run him out of town.”

  1. A full page ad ran in the Cincinnati Enquirer with a picture of Driehaus and his 2 young daughters urging him to vote no on reform. The paaper has since issued a full retraction
  2. Rep. Driehaus’ home address being posted online and people exhorted to pay him a visit. A protest is planned at his house in Cincinnati on Sunday. Police have been guarding the house as well. Threatening phone  calls have been received by hos wife.
  3. Bart Stupak with over 50 threatening voicemails he has turned over to police. You should listen to some of them. They threaten both Mr. Stupak’s life and that of his family and are vile and disgusting.
  4. Numerous Democratic and local Congressional offices with broken windows or break ins and threatening messages (NY,VA,AZ,OH).

We could go on and on.

What is the response from the Republican leadership. Here is Leader Boehner’s stirring rhetoric on the subject:

“I know many Americans are angry over this health care bill, and that Washington Democrats just aren’t listening,” Mr. Boehner said in a statement. “But, as I’ve said, violence and threats are unacceptable. That’s not the American way. We need to take that anger and channel it into positive change.”

Unacceptable? Channel? Please..

How about Boehner’s Tonto- Eric Cantor, the minority whip’s stirring appeal :

“I do not condone violence,”  “There are no leaders in the building, no rank and file members that condone violence, period.”

Right before saying this about not politicizing the situation:

Dems are “….dangerously fanning the flames by suggesting that these incidents be used as a political weapon.”

Politicizing? Hmmm.  Rep Neugebauer who owned up to saying  “baby killer” and  apologized to Bart Stupak now has a YouTube fundraising video using the footage…I guess he really wasn’t sorry.

Words from our elected leaders matter. People listen and take cues from them.

The incendiary rhetoric that started with Joe the Plumber and that death panels and all the rest continue to stir up matter.

Republican leaders continue to court this lunatic fringe and even show up at the rallies to whip up the faithful.

Good old Michelle “America’s Congresswoman” Bachmann says all the time in public:

“[I]t’s like Thomas Jefferson said, a revolution every now and then is a good thing.

Something tells me that our Founding Fathers did not have this type of hate mongering, uncivil type of behavior in mind for “democracy”.

Trying to make this all go away as a lunatic fringe, over the top few and all the other excuses is total BS.

For nearly 2 years here, starting in the fall of 2008 this type of behavior has been whipped up, supported and facillitated by the behavior of the Republican party, its leaders and their rhetoric.

Once the genie is put of the bottle it is hard to put it back in and the problem is now out of control threatening not only members of Congress but their families.

But, hey but if you are a really lucky and wealthy loon you can get your picture taken with Bachmann and Sarah Palin for just $10,000 at an upcoming fund raiser!

This is not the America I grew up in nor the one any of us want but it is here, it is real and it is dangerous, very, very dangerous. I lived through the JFK, RFK and MLK being assassinated and this boiling pot worries me.

I have come to one main conclusion and that is that if we had a white President none of this would be happening. You may try to deny that but you cannot. Another sad commentary to say the least.

How To Get the BOR – Just Ask – “Is Your Broker HITECH Compliant?”

January 31, 2010

Resources to help you – HITECH Survival Center

Failing a HIPAA audit already cost one broker over $1M.

So it is logical that for those who have not complied yet or paid attention to their legal obligations in a timely fashion there may be an opportunity for those who are more diligent.

On 2/18 those of you brokers who are compliant might want to  launch an all out marketing campaign  on your prospects asking these basic questions:

  • Is your BA agreement up to date with your broker?
  • What has your broker done to educate you on HIPAA HITECH?
  • Is your broker offering you an encrypted email solution for communicating with them for PHI?
  • Do you know that sending census in the open with no encryption is a breach of the law?

I could add others but I suspect that one of these can get you an appointment and with the proper presentation get you a broker of record letter.

My guess based on what I am seeing is that 80% of the prospects you contact would talk to you and when they did their research and found out their brokers were non compliant you could be the winner.

Heck just an outreach using Judy Diamond or 5500 data would create havoc for your competitors having to answer embarassing questions.

If you don’t think this could happen to your organization, think again. You’ve lost accounts for much less important reasons than failing to comply with Federal law.

Trying to explain your failure to comply to the CEO or CFO of a key account – especially law firms, hospitals, banks, schools, doctors groups, governmental entities, non profits and publicly traded companies – will be an interesting and short conversation.

NAHU Presentation on HIPAA HITECH – Broker To Do List

January 25, 2010

The Industry Radar HITECH Webinar is on Thurs, 1/28 – register here.

I knew if I looked hard enough I would find some useful information and advice for brokers and I did thanks to friend Janet Trautwein, NAHU’s CEO,  who pointed me to the webinar and slides that NAHU did for its members in November on this topic.

The slides can be accessed here

A recording of the webinar is here

The bottom line of course is that you need to take HITECH seriously and get compliant by 2/17/2010.

A to do list excerpted from the slides is below. A more complete and exhaustive list is here in HITECH 101 for Brokers:

Privacy Compliance Deadline: 2/17/2010 • Appoint a privacy official • Amend business associate agreements with group health plans to include additional required provisions • Cure your breaches of business associate agreements • Enter into business associate agreements with privacy safeguards by 2/17/2010 with any organization that provides data transmission services to you • Comply with new HITECH minimum necessary requirements effective 2/17/2010 (further HHS guidance expected by 8/17/2009) • Comply with changes to request for restriction rules • Comply with new marketing restrictions • Seek authorization prior to selling PHI for certain purposes (beginning no later than 2/17/2010, depending on when regulations are issued) Security Compliance Deadline: 2/17/2010: • Appoint a security official • Implement all HIPAA security administrative, technical and physical safeguards • Conduct a security risk analysis • Amend business associate agreements to include new security rules (as early as 9/15/2009 since that is the latest date the new breach notification rules will apply) • Enter into business associate agreement with security safeguards with any organization that provides data transmission services to you • Develop and maintain written security policies & procedures • Conduct privacy and security workforce training • Wait for HHS guidance (expected by 1/1/2010 and to be updated annually) regarding the most effective and appropriate technical safeguards and consider implementing • Implement technologies or methodologies that make PHI secure (from April 2009 these are “encryption or destruction”) • Comply with new notification rules for breach of unsecured PHI

The Industry Radar HITECH Webinar is on Thurs, 1/28 – register here.

Yes – Our Readers Listen!! Dinosaurs Disappearing..

August 16, 2009

In early May we posted about how backward the insurance industry was in just the browsers they used.

Apparently some of you paid attention and acted to improve your web experience!! In fact over 10% of you already have in just 90 days!!!

In April Internet Explorer made up 91.2% of all of our site visits and the dinosaur from the pre – 9/11 days – IE6 was 58.3% of the IE total.

At the end of July IE made up only 87.4% of our visits and IE 6 had dropped to 50.2% of all IE visits.

The big gainer was IE8 which went from 1.2% to 9.89% of the IE totals. Firefox grew nicely from 7% to 9.14% or nearly a third.

Safari is nearly 2% now (up from 1.2%) and Opera (my favorite) and  Google Chrome both are approaching 1% from nearly nothing earlier this year.

Mobile access is now about 1% of all visits – it should be MUCH more. Look for the Mobile icon and try it on your Blackberry, iPhone  et al….they are really useful on your smartphone.

If you are still part of the 44% of our viewers using IE6 – PLEASE – try a modern browser.

All the new browsers let you subscribe to the newsfeeds you like directly in them as well as offer a more secure and faster web browsing experience.

Go hear to learn more…and join the 21st century on the web!!

What Clients Want from their Broker

July 27, 2009

Over the last few weeks we have reviewed and updated over 650 local and regional broker websites. The results were quite revealing but not surprising – nearly 70% of all firms sites were ranked as 1 or 2 – essentially online brochures or billboards – and less than 1 of 8 could be found when Googling for the term “employee benefits” in their area.

These results are quite telling in light of the Business Insurance survey released last week that made it clear that the size of the firm did not matter to clients but the traditional values of culture, relationships, competent and responsive people all did make the list. it is entirely possible that in light of the “too big to fail” issues our economy is suffering from that customers realize that size is often an inhibitor to success rather than one that works on their behalf.

The real surprise is for the first time the firm’s ability to leverage technology on the client’s behalf did.

Clearly a firm with a nice updated website providing online tools and value to customers is more likely to make a positive impression on customers expecting technological competence than one that is a billboard or online brochure.

So if size is not viewed as a real differentiator and technology competence is, smaller firms, or the larger ones properly focused – have a great window to innovate and compete.