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Technology


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[Guidance Overview] ACA Information Returns (AIR) Working Group Meeting, April 26, 2016 (PDF)
33 presentation slides. Topics covered: [1] General AIR Information; [2] General AIR Mailbox Information; [3] Help Desk; [4] ACA Nontechnical Questions; and [5] Questions from March Webinar. (Internal Revenue Service [IRS])
Federal Courts Consider Viability of State-Law Claims Arising from Anthem Data Breach
"Anthem, Inc.'s February 2015 announcement of a massive breach of HIPAA electronic protected health information has prompted several class-action lawsuits by participants in health plans insured or administered by Anthem subsidiaries. In the cases [discussed in this article], participants sued in state court, but the Anthem entities moved the cases to federal court. These federal court rulings address requests by the participants to return the cases to state court.... Individuals seeking compensation in connection with large-scale data breaches may prefer to sue in state court because of the greater remedies typically available under state law." (Thomson Reuters / EBIA)
HIPAA's Application to E-mails and Texts to Patients or Others
"HIPAA allows covered entities and their business associates to communicate e-PHI with patients via e-mails and texts if either [1] the e-mails and texts are encrypted and/or are otherwise secure; or [2] the covered entity or business associate first warns the patient that the communication is not secure and the patient elects to communicate via unsecure e-mail or text, anyway. When it comes to communicating with non-patients, the covered entity or business associate must generally ensure that its e-mail or texts comply with relevant Privacy and Security Rule standards." (Holland & Hart LLP)
House Bill Would Shift Participant Disclosure Defaults
"Bipartisan legislation introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives June 4 would allow pension plan participants to be automatically opted in to electronic delivery of documents.... The bill's supporters note that it's estimated (conservatively) that the costs of sending just one four-page notice to recipients is between $36 million and $60 million. They argue that the RETIRE Act would reduce mailing costs, protect the environment by eliminating thousands of pieces of paper mailed each day, and make information more accessible to recipients." (National Tax-Deferred Savings Association [NTSA])
Engineer Develops Wallet-Size Plan to Fix Health Care
"[Robert Higgs] has spent eight years and $25 million developing a medical-records technology that can put each patient's lifelong medical history and images onto a wallet-size card.... [He is] in talks with Louisville-based Humana Inc., one of the nation's largest health insurers, on a $475 million contract to deploy ICUcare's technology. Humana has estimated it can use ICUcare to pay doctors and hospitals faster, yet still save $20 million per year." (Indianapolis Business Journal)
CRS Report: Anthem Data Breach -- How Safe Is Health Information Under HIPAA? (PDF)
3 pages. "Payers and providers of health care have considerable discretion in how they implement the HIPAA security standards. Each standard is accompanied by one or more implementation specifications. Some implementation specifications are required ... Other implementation specifications are 'addressable.' ... Encryption is one of the addressable measures. Entities that choose not to use encryption must document the reasons and implement an 'equivalent alternative measure if reasonable and appropriate.' The Anthem breach calls into question whether health care payers and providers should be permitted such latitude in implementing the HIPAA security standards versus a more prescriptive, mandatory approach." [CMS Insights IN10235, Feb. 24, 2015] (Congressional Research Service [CRS])
Employers: What the Anthem Breach Means to You
"If your organization has a self-insured group health plan and uses Anthem as a TPA, there are a few steps that you can take while Anthem continues its forensic investigation: ... If breach notification obligations have not already been contractually delegated to Anthem, consider whether to formally delegate those obligations to Anthem now ... Create an internal security incident report to demonstrate that you are aware that a security incident affecting the group health plan has occurred, and document the actions that are being taken and the basis for any delay (e.g., that you are waiting on more information from Anthem) ... Once any required breach notifications have been made, ensure that you have some evidence (such as information from Anthem) demonstrating that the necessary breach notifications to affected individuals, HHS, the media, and potentially state regulators and credit reporting agencies have been made." (Davis Wright Tremaine LLP)
Healthcare Data Is Equivalent to Fine Dining on the Black Market
"There are three primary factors: [1] Quantity of information -- Think of the 15 pages of forms that gets filled out when visiting a doctor. No other vertical has that quantity of data. [2] Value of information -- Not only is there a lot of data, but it is the best stuff. Social security numbers, payment information, bank accounts, addresses and troves of personally identifiable information (PII). [3] Timely -- Our medical and financial information is guaranteed to be updated at least annually with the traditional open enrollment period with employers. Additionally, healthcare information is constantly being updated with every physician's visit. No other vertical updates client data with such frequency." (Forbes)
[Opinion] Anthem Was Right Not to Encrypt
"[By] creating buzz around [the data encryption] issue, reporters are missing the real story: that multinational hacking forces are targeting large healthcare institutions. Most lay people ... presume that encrypted records are always more secure than encrypted records, which is simplistic and untrue.... Anthem has a responsibility, under HIPAA, to ensure that records remain accessible. That is much easier to do with unencrypted data.... There is little that would have stopped a hacker with the level of access that these hackers achieved. Encryption probably would not have helped." (The Health Care Blog)
The Anthem Data Breach: Overview of HIPAA and Other Consequences (PDF)
"Where Anthem is acting as an insurer, and the employer is not 'hands on' with the plan's PHI (i.e., it does not acquire, maintain, or transmit the plan's PHI), the notice and disclosure obligation is Anthem's.... Where the health plan is self-insured and Anthem is acting as a 'business associate' of the plan, Anthem (as the plan's third-party claims payor) has a duty under HIPAA/HITECH to notify the employer health plan of the breach. Generally, it is the health plan's responsibility to then supply notice to affected individuals and, in some cases, federal authorities and media outlets. However, health plans and their business associates may agree upon who will actually supply the notice.... Anthem has pledged to supply notice to all affected individuals." (Lockton)
Lack of Encryption Standard Raises Health Care Privacy Questions
"[HIPAA] encourages encryption, but doesn't require it. The lack of a clear encryption standard undermines public confidence, some experts say, even as the government plows ahead to spread the use of computerized medical records and promote electronic information sharing among hospitals, doctors and insurers." (Associated Press via CNS News)
Data Breach at Anthem May Lead to Others
"Medical identify theft is on the rise ... because it pays.... [At] one auction a patient medical record sold for $251, while credit card records were selling for 33 cents.... [Unlike credit card records] patient medical records typically include information not easily destroyed, including date of birth, Social Security numbers and even physical characteristics that make them more useful for things like identity theft, creation of visas or insurance fraud by falsely billing for expensive medical or dental procedures that were either never done or performed on someone else." (The New York Times; subscription may be required)
Scammers Begin Phishing Anthem Plan Members
"Anthem ... said it will probably take about two weeks to figure out how many of its 80 million current and former customers and employees had information ... exposed by hackers, and to start notifying them. The insurer warned ... that customers should beware of phishing e-mails that solicit personal information, including a 'click here' link for credit monitoring. Scam artists are also trying to trick consumers into revealing personal data over the phone[.]" (Bloomberg)
Recommendations to Achieve a More Transparent Health Care System for Consumers (PDF)
"Especially in the current health care environment, where consumers are taking on more of the cost burden through increasing out-of-pocket costs, particularly from the growth of high deductible health plans, they need and want more information.... If the goal is to change the priority from increasing volume of data to providing more practical and meaningful [information], attention to regulatory reforms is critical." (The Brookings Institution)
Selling Savings the Amazon Way
"[I]t's no surprise how quickly employees give up when they're encouraged to save more in their retirement plans, yet then have to complete a long process to do so.... [Vanguard has] developed 'nudges' for savings, including Meet Your Match and Recommended Savings Rate.... Both nudges use a sophisticated combination of plan design information and participant data to make a specific recommendation to an employee logging into the retirement plans site. This information includes match structure, contribution source information, participant compensation data, participant savings rate, and more." (Vanguard)
Attracting Attention: Freezing of Female Employees' Eggs as an Employee Benefit
"The most attention employee benefits has garnered in a long time occurred when Facebook and Apple recently announced they were offering a new benefit to their employees: paying for procedures that will take a woman's eggs and freeze them for use in in-vitro fertilization in the future.... It created such a strong reaction because some people see it as an admission that a serious commitment to work is incompatible with having a family, at least for women. Others view it as denigrating motherhood and family, implicitly suggesting that work could be -- or perhaps even should be -- important enough to push having a family into the background, even for those who want a family." (Human Resource Executive Online)
[Guidance Overview] HPID Deadline is November 5
"If a plan is fully insured, the insurer will apply for the HPID. But if the plan has a self-funded component (e.g., prescription drug coverage), the plan will need an HPID. In determining if a plan has a self-funded component for this purpose, generally the flexible spending accounts and retiree health reimbursement accounts can be disregarded.... For employers with wrap plans that file a single Form 5500, it may be easier to obtain a single HPID for the entire plan, including all of the self-insured programs or 'subhealth plans' -- even if there are fully insured programs within the wrap plan[.]" (Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP)
[Opinion] Testing the SHOP in Ohio: Not as 'Easy as Buying a Plane Ticket'
"Ohio is one of five states with early access to the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP).... [The web site] asked us to begin entering information for each employee. We could either do that or download an excel document and populate it into the system.... The spreadsheet has 20 columns to complete for each employee. Each dependent has an additional 8 columns to complete. You must provide date of birth, social security number, date of hire, address, employee code, and a preferred method of contact for each employee and their dependents.... Without knowing the rates and benefits it doesn't make sense to waste productivity gathering all of the data. Instead we will wait until the insurance companies are allowed to quote the plans directly. When will that be? I'm not sure but I'll bet it won't be until after next Tuesday." (InsureBlog)
Testimony of HHS Secretary Sibelius at House Committee Hearing on Healthcare.gov Status
The committee hearing is presented as a live webcast on Wednesday morning, October 30. A recording will be available thereafter. (House Committee on Energy and Commerce)
Statement of CMS Administrator to Congressional Hearing on Status of Healthcare.gov (PDF)
"The fact is that the [ACA] delivered on its product: quality, affordable health insurance. The tremendous interest shown in HealthCare.gov shows that people want to buy this product.... [I]t is important to remember that the [ACA] is much more than purchasing insurance through HealthCare.gov. Most Americans -- 85 percent -- already have health coverage through an employer-based plan, or health benefit, such as Medicare, Medicaid, or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP)." (Marilyn Tavenner, Administrator, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services)
A Startling Agreement on Who to Blame for Healthcare.gov
"Everyone at the Energy and Commerce hearing [October 24] came to an agreement on who caused the problems with HealthCare.Gov: Somebody else.... The result of the marathon hearing yielded a few notable tidbits. Contractors are more than happy to throw the federal government under the bus." (Ezra Klein in The Washington Post; subscription may be required)
Bipartisan Dismay Over Health Plan Woes at House Hearing
"Federal officials did not fully test the online health insurance marketplace until two weeks before it opened to the public on Oct. 1, contractors told Congress on [October 24]. While individual components of the system were tested earlier, they said, the government did not conduct 'end-to-end testing' of the whole system from start to finish until late September.... Lawmakers said they were dismayed because the contractors assured the committee on Sept. 10 that they, their computer systems and the online federal marketplace were ready[.]" (The New York Times; subscription may be required)
HHS Brings in Verizon to Help HealthCare.gov [Video]
"An informed source in the telecommunications industry said Verizon's Enterprise Solutions division has been asked by the Department of Health and Human Services to improve the performance of the HealthCare.gov site, which is a key component of the Affordable Care Act.... HHS office said Sunday the department would reach outside its government contractors to civilian companies that might be able to solve HealthCare.gov's problems more quickly." (USA TODAY)
[Guidance Overview] HIPAA: Health Privacy and Security 1.0 (PDF)
54 presentation slides from a February 12, 2013 webinar. Includes extensive coverage of the recently issued final regulations under the HIPAA privacy, security and enforcement rules and the HITECH Act, especially as they affect business associates. (Morgan Lewis)
Software Developers and Network Engineers: Why You Should Be Working in Health Information Technology
"Health care IT is a field in need of upgrades. Where many of America's businesses -- from retail stores to banks to telecom companies -- depend on interoperable network infrastructure and user-friendly interfaces, many doctors' offices, hospitals, clinics and medical laboratories across the U.S. still rely on legacy software and hardware. Some doctors still store patient files on paper, and write prescriptions by (illegible) hand. In an industry where lives are at stake every day -- and where governmental pressure for providers to adopt electronic record-keeping continues to mount -- outdated practices like these point to a serious need for bright minds with fresh perspectives." (Tech Republic)
IBM's Watson Could Be Healthcare Game Changer
"IBM announced the release of three new health care decision-support applications [which use Watson, IBM's 'cognitive' computing platform]. The three new applications include one for recommending cancer treatment options and two for reviewing and authorizing treatments and related health insurance claims.... The doctor uses touch navigation to browse the latest symptoms and test results. The decision support is delivered as a prioritized list of recommended tests and treatment regimens together with confidence scores and links to supporting research." (InformationWeek)
Participant Communications: A Strategic Differentiator for Health Plans
"As consumers begin to have more choice in their health insurance coverage, it is critical that health plans provide an excellent member experience to help drive loyalty. A targeted and impactful communication strategy can differentiate health plans and distinguish an organization from its competitors. Communications, therefore, should be a core part of a health plan's reform strategy, and health plans should consider who the target audiences are and how communications can influence bottom-line results (such as new member acquisition or increased retention)." (Deloitte Center for Health Solutions)
[Opinion] The Health Information Technology Scam
"[Two recent articles] indicate that [Health Information Technology ('HIT') has not lived up to expectations. Actually, it is quite a bit worse than that. The RAND piece is a sort of mea culpa for an earlier RAND 'study' that predicted $81 billion in annual savings if we adopted HIT ... This RAND piece was the main rationale for spending over $20 billion (in two years) on HIT, but rather than saving money, HIT seems to have cost more money because it made it easier to bill for more services, according to the [New York Times]. It may also be creating more errors and inefficiencies in medical practice." (John Goodman's Health Policy Blog)
Your Medical Records, HIPAA, and the Illusion of Privacy
"HIPAA is supposed to protect our private medical records from prying eyes, but there are many exceptions and gaps as Michael P. Kassner found out while doing some research." (Tech Republic)
The Rush to Digitize Patient Records Has Not Cut Costs
"It's possible that computerization may actually have increased spending. Between 2006 and 2010, Medicare payment to hospitals receiving federal dollars for electronic records grew faster than payments to hospitals that did not take advantage of the incentives ... What IT's boosters did not anticipate was how hard it would be to develop a truly 'inter-operable' system -- that is, one that enables various providers to access a patient's data no matter who created the record." (The Washington Post; free registration required)
RAND Walks Back Estimates of Savings from Advances in Health Information Technology
"RAND researchers are walking back a [2005] report ... estimating that the widespread adoption of healthcare information technology could trim more than $81 billion each year from the nation's healthcare tab through improved efficiencies. Instead, a new RAND analysis by a new team of researchers ... notes that seven years later, expectations about the safety and efficiency of HIT mostly have not been met, and annual healthcare spending has increased by $800 billion." (HealthLeaders Media)
Real-World Solutions for Your Health, Benefits & Wellness Programs
Hear what's working for senior executives at major employers including: American Express, Big Lots, Carlson, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Comcast, H-E-B, Intel, Leviton, Microsoft, NextEra Energy, Walgreens and Yahoo! Limited-time registration offer going on now. (Health & Benefits Leadership Conference)
Obtain Your Ethics CE Credit!
Understand the ethical issues facing employee benefit practitioners! Join ERISA attorney, John Griffin, Dec 6th. Click on the link to register. (ASC)
DATAIR! New Features - Flexible Pricing - Module Integration
Proposals, Testing, Administration, 5500s, 1099Rs, Plan Documents -- 401(k), New Comparability, 403(b), Non-qualified Plans -- (888) 328-2474 Sales@DATAIR.com www.DATAIR.com (DATAIR Employee Benefit Systems, Inc.)
Are you frustrated with 8955-SSA or 1099 filings this year?
Ask ftwilliam.com about our fulfillment services. You do the preparation and then we will take care of the rest on your behalf. We will do all of the electronic filing and any printing and mailing necessary. Contact us for details: sales@ftwilliam.com (ftwilliam.com)
Industry Education Begins with RPF
Earn Your RPF Certificate and start your journey to a credential. RPF webcourses, texts and exams cover terminology, issues, and requirements for anyone starting the credential process or building a career. Start your journey today. (American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA))
Advisors & TPAs: Don't Miss the NAPA/ASPPA 401(k) SUMMIT 2013!
Join us in exciting Las Vegas at Caesar's Palace and get the latest government and regulatory updates that affect you and find out why 1,300+ retirement plan professionals return every year. (American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA))
Are you frustrated with 8955-SSA or 1099 filings this year?
Ask ftwilliam.com about our fulfillment services. You do the preparation and then we will take care of the rest on your behalf. We will do all of the electronic filing and any printing and mailing necessary. Contact us for details sales@ftwilliam.com (ftwilliam.com)
Advisors & TPAs: Don't Miss the NAPA/ASPPA 401(k) SUMMIT 2013!
Join us in exciting Las Vegas at Caesar's Palace and get the latest government and regulatory updates that affect you and find out why 1,300+ retirement plan professionals return every year. (American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA))
Fast, Integrated, Affordable Form 1099 Software
Wolters Kluwer Law & Business -- ftwilliam.com offers web-based 1099 Software that will help simplify the 1099 preparation process. Need help with all that printing, mailing and e-filing? Ask about our Service Bureau. We'll take care of that for you. (ftwilliam.com)
The latest on employee benefit issues + Top IRS & DOL Speakers
Explore employee benefit issues with colleagues and local, regional and national government representatives from the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Labor! (American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA))
DATAIR! Better Than Ever - Flexible Pricing - Superior Validation
Choose "Pension Reporter System" modules you need: EFAST2 5500/PBGC/SAR, 1099Rs, 5300s, FAS158 -- (888) 328-2474 Sales@DATAIR.com www.DATAIR.com (DATAIR Employee Benefit Systems, Inc.)
5500 Filing: Easy, Efficient & Reliable
Experience the ease and reliability of 5500 filing with ASC! File up to 10 forms through our web-based 5500 system -- with NO obligation. Click on the link for more info and registration. (ASC)
Fast, Integrated, Affordable Form 1099 Software
Wolters Kluwer Law & Business -- ftwilliam.com offers web-based 1099 Software that will help simplify the 1099 preparation process. Need help with all that printing, mailing and e-filing? Ask about our Service Bureau. We'll take care of that for you. (ftwilliam.com)
Advisors & TPAs: Don't Miss the NAPA/ASPPA 401(k) SUMMIT 2013!
Join us in exciting Las Vegas at Caesar's Palace and get the latest government and regulatory updates that affect you and find out why 1,300+ retirement plan professionals return every year. (American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA))
The most important thing you can do today -- Vote!
Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he is not making a present or a compliment to please an individual -- or at least that he ought not so to do; but that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country. (Samuel Adams in the Boston Gazette, April 16, 1781) (BenefitsLink.com)
What You Need to Know About PPA Restatements & More Webinar
This webinar will cover the PPA Volume Submitter (prototype format) document from head to toe. We will also touch on some of the new formats and plans that we will offer customers for PPA. Join to learn how ftwilliam.com will make life easier for PPA. (ftwilliam.com)
Real-World Solutions for Your Health, Benefits & Wellness Programs
Hear what's working for senior executives at major employers including: American Express, Big Lots, Carlson, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Comcast, H-E-B, Intel, Leviton, Microsoft, NextEra Energy, Walgreens and Yahoo! Limited-time registration offer going on now. (Health & Benefits Leadership Conference)
Learn the definition of business success at NIPA's 2013BMC
NIPA's 2013 Business Management Conference (BMC) will provide insight into the evolution of successful TPA business management. This one-of-a-kind event is an open forum for TPA business owners to examine industry developments and challenges. (NIPA (National Institute of Pension Administrators))
DATAIR! Smart By Design -- More Choices -- Less Cost
Proposals, Testing, Valuation, IRS/DOL/PBGC Forms, Plan Documents -- Includes Graded, 412(e)(3), Cash Balance, Combo Plans -- (888) 328-2474 Sales@DATAIR.com www.DATAIR.com (DATAIR Employee Benefit Systems, Inc.)
Evaluating Your Third-Party Administrator: Are You Getting What You're Paying For?
November 2 -- live audio conference explores the key roles of third-party administrators, how to evaluate a third-party administrator and the key areas to be evaluated to ensure you are receiving what you are paying for. Discounted pricing for BenefitsLink readers. (Lorman and BenefitsLink.com)
5500 Filing: Easy, Efficient & Reliable
File up to 10 forms between now and January 15, 2013 through ASC's web-based 5500 system -- with NO obligation - and see just how easy it can be. Click on the link for more info and registration. (ASC)
Explore advantages and disadvantages of cash balance plans!
Cash balance plans are a critical facet of any plan consultant's knowledge base. Through this module, you will explore the advantages and disadvantages of a cash balance plan and how it works in combination with a defined contribution plan. (American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA))
Web-based proposals -- Like NOTHING you've seen before.
PenEasy dramatically reduces the data input, expertise and cost needed to produce comparison illustrations for popular retirement plan designs. Web-based PenEasy requires no software installation and creates effective PDF output to clinch the sale. (BlazeSSI)
Industry Education Begins with RPF
Earn Your RPF Certificate and start your journey to a credential. RPF webcourses, texts and exams cover terminology, issues, and requirements for anyone starting the credential process or building a career. Start your journey today. (ASPPA)
Fast, Integrated, Affordable Form 1099 Software
Wolters Kluwer Law & Business -- ftwilliam.com offers web-based 1099 Software that will help simplify the 1099 preparation process. Need help with all that printing, mailing and e-filing? Ask about our Service Bureau. We'll take care of that for you. (ftwilliam.com)
Defending & Managing ERISA Litigation -- Oct. 29-30, NYC
Advanced forum brings together leading in-house counsel and outside defense attorneys to engage in developing winning litigation strategies and overcoming new and emerging theories of liability from the plaintiffs' bar. BenefitsLink discount code: BL 200 (American Conference Institute)
401k Professionals: Get your Qualified 401(k) Administrator Credential!
Work in some aspect of retirement plan administration? Want to specialize in the administration of 401(k) plans? The QKA credential is for you! Get your Qualified 401(k) Administrator (QKA) Credential and show that you're serious about your career! (ASPPA)
Fast, Integrated, Affordable Form 1099 Software
Wolters Kluwer Law & Business -- ftwilliam.com offers web-based 1099 Software that will help simplify the 1099 preparation process. Need help with all that printing, mailing and e-filing? Ask about our Service Bureau. We'll take care of that for you. (ftwilliam.com)
Join Sutherland for a Free Webinar -- October 23 -- Register Now
We will provide an overview of the 3 components of the EPCRS program, including when to determine if self-correction is appropriate versus when a filing should be made with the IRS and methods for identifying and correcting common plan errors. (Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP)

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