Why Identity Theft might be a problem under the ACA


Registering for health insurance through an exchange may expose you to identity theft.
Registering for health insurance through an exchange may expose you to identity theft.

The ACA “train” is rapidly approaching the station, at least the part with the individual mandate. The employer mandate has been uncoupled from the engine and has been delayed until 2015. But the requirement that individuals without coverage have to obtain coverage beginning October 1, 2013 is still in effect. Unfortunately some are concerned that there are not enough protections under the process to safeguard critical identity information from being stolen. So here is why identity theft might be a problem under the ACA.
Letter from an Attorneys General
I received an email from the Attorneys General of the State of Georgia in which he discussed a letter that he and 12 other Attorneys General sent to Secretary Kathleen Sebelius of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In this letter they outlined their concerns over privacy of protected information. Under the ACA “navigators” have been funded to help individuals work through selecting healthcare options off the Federal and state exchanges. It is that method that is causing the Attorneys Generals concern. They are concerned that:

  • the HHS rules do not provide clear privacy protections
  • the federal rules fail to ensure that navigators will be adequately trained to safeguard data provided by consumers.
  • the agency have already cut back on the required hours of training from 30 to 20 online hours because there isn’t enough time for adequate training before the health insurance exchanges open.
  • the guidelines governing navigators are less demanding than federal privacy requirements applicable to federal census workers.
  • HHS currently does not require criminal background checks or fingerprint checks of potential navigator hires and does not list any prior criminal acts as being a dis-qualifier for someone seeking to work with consumers and their private information.

Employer obligations
Employers do not have any specific requirements regarding the navigator system. We do have an obligation to give to each of our employees a notice informing them of the availability of the exchanges. There are three levels of employers. Some compliance is required at all three levels.
First, there are employers who provide no insurance and have fewer than 50 FTEs. They must give their employees the notice that informs them of the availability of the Healthcare Exchange.
Secondly there are employers who offer insurance regardless of the size of the company. They must provide their employees with the notice of what coverage they have and where they can go to see if they can purchase insurance at a cheaper rate. For employers that are in this category and have more than 50 FTEs there are requirements on the affordability of the insurance. Check with your insurance broker to fully understand these metrics.
Thirdly there are employers that are subject to COBRA if they have more than 20 employees. If, as an employer, you are in this category then you must provide all terminated employees a new COBRA notice that not only offers them COBRA coverage but also information on getting insurance through the Healthcare exchange. 
You should also tell your employees to pay attention to their information and be on guard for identity theft. It is unlikely that anything will happen but as an employer you don’t want to have employees distracted by having to deal with the issues that arise due to identity theft.
Image courtesy of chanpipat at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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