11/5 Deadline For Many Health Plans To Get Health Plan ID From CMS

With the November 5, 2014 deadline for “controlling health plans” CHPs (except small health plans) to obtain the Health Plan Identifier (HPID) required by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Administrative Simplification: Adoption of a Standard for a Unique Health Plan Identifier Final Rule (Final Rule) the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is working to streamline the process CHPs use to get the HPID.

Part of CMS’ continuing implementation of electronic transaction requirements enacted as part of the Administrative Simplification reforms of the Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA) to reduce the cost of processing health payment transactions, the HPID requirement may apply to self-insured group health plans sponsored by employers.  A self-insured health plan must answer two questions to determine whether it must obtain a HPID.

  • Does it meet the definition of health plan under 45 CFR 160.103? A health plan is an individual or group plan that provides or pays the cost of medical care (as defined in 45 CFR 160.103).
  • If it meets the definition of a health plan, is it a controlling health plan (CHP)? A CHP is a health plan that controls its own business activities, actions, or policies, or is controlled by an entity that is not a health plan.
  • A health plan is also a CHP if it has one or more sub health plans that it controls by directing the SHP’s business activities, actions, or policies.

The deadline for compliance with the HPID requirement generally depends upon the annual receipts of the CHP. The November 5, 2014 deadline generally applies to CHPs other than small health plans, which get an extra year to obtain their HPID. Small health plans generally are those with annual receipts of $5 million or less).  Small health must obtain a HPID by November 5, 2015.

For insured group and individual health plans, the insurance carrier is the entity responsible for obtaining the HPID.  In these fully insured arrangements, the Final Rule provides that insured individual employer plans are sub health plans (SHPs) to the fully insured CHPs which are permitted but not required to get their own HPID.

In contrast, when a self-insured health plan is a CHP, responsibility for obtaining the required HPID rests with the health plan.   However, CMS guidance allows the self-insured CHP to have  its third party administrator or another party help it negotiate the process of getting the required HPID.

To obtain a HPID, a CHP must:

  • Create an account in the CMS Enterprise Portal to obtain a user ID and password.
  • Select the link to register in the Health Insurance Oversight System (HIOS).
  • After registering in HIOS, select the link for the Health Plan and Other Entity Enumeration System (HPOES), and follow the prompts.

CMS has posted a User Manual and a Systems Quick Guide to help CMPs obtain their HPID and otherwise use the Health Plan and Other Entity Enumeration System (HPOES).

Growing pains in the evolution of the HPID guidance and HPOES system have prompted CMS to make several refinements to the guidance and the system.   Recently, CMS updated the HPOES  to allow multiple controlling health plans to register for a HPID using a single employer identification number (EIN).  Also, on October 14, 2014, CMS announced the release of a software enhancement to HPOES which streamline the HPID application process so that the system automatically approves the application and generates an HPID upon submission  CMS has updated two resources to help health plans register for an HPID:

  • A revised Quick Guide to obtaining an HPID for controlling health plans
  • An updated User Manual, which provides details about the registration process.

Employers and others sponsoring or administering these arrangements should confirm that the HPID is timely required for its health plan if and when required.  If planning to rely upon a third party administrator or other service provider, the employer or other sponsor should consider including the agreement between the parties concerning the allocation of these responsibilities in its administrative or other services agreement with that vendor.

The HPID requirement is just one of many evolving requirements for health plans.  As the U.S. Department of Labor and other agencies are stepping up health plan audits and enforcement, employer and other health plan sponsors and fiduciaries generally will want not only to review their health plan documentation, processes and procedures for compliance, but also to retain documentation of these efforts.  To the extent that the sponsor or a fiduciary relies upon a third party administrator, broker, consultant or other third party to design or administer the program, it should confirm that any the parties have in place required business associate or other confidentiality agreements as well as document other compliance and performance expectations in a carefully crafted written agreement.

About Author Cynthia Marcotte Stamer

If you need help reviewing or updating your health benefit program for compliance or with any other employment, employee benefit, compensation or internal controls matter, please contact the author of this article, attorney Cynthia Marcotte Stamer.

A Fellow in the American College of Employee Benefits Council, immediate past-Chair and current Welfare Benefit Committee Co-Chair of the American Bar Association (ABA) RPPT Employee Benefits & Other Compensation Arrangements, an ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits Council Representative, the ABA TIPS Employee Benefit Plan Committee Vice Chair, former ABA Health Law Section Managed Care & Insurance Interest Group Chair, past Southwest Benefits Association Board Member, Employee Benefit News Editorial Advisory Board Member, and a widely published speaker and author,  Ms. Stamer has more than 24 years experience advising businesses, plans, fiduciaries, insurers. plan administrators and other services providers,  and governments on health care, retirement, employment, insurance, and tax program design, administration, defense and policy.   Nationally and internationally known for her creative and highly pragmatic knowledge and work on health benefit and insurance programs, Ms. Stamer’s  experience includes extensive involvement in advising and representing these and other clients on ACA and other health care legislation, regulation, enforcement and administration.

Widely published on health benefit and other related matters, Ms. Stamer’s insights and articles have been published by the HealthLeaders, Modern Health Care, Managed Care Executive, the Bureau of National Affairs, Aspen Publishers, Business Insurance, Employee Benefit News, the Wall Street Journal, the American Bar Association, Aspen Publishers, World At Work, Spencer Publications, SHRM, the International Foundation, Solutions Law Press and many others.

For additional information about Ms. Stamer and her experience, see www.CynthiaStamer.com.

About Project COPE: The Coalition On Patient Empowerment & Its  Coalition on Responsible Health Policy

Sharing and promoting the use of practical practices, tools, information and ideas that patients and their families, health care providers, employers, health plans, communities and policymakers can share and offer to help patients, their families and others in their care communities to understand and work together to better help the patients, their family and their professional and private care community plan for and manage these  needs is the purpose of Project COPE.

The best opportunity to improve access to quality, affordable health care for all Americans is for every American, and every employer, insurer, and community organization to seize the opportunity to be good Samaritans.  The government, health care providers, insurers and community organizations can help by providing education and resources to make understanding and dealing with the realities of illness, disability or aging easier for a patient and their family, the affected employers and others. At the end of the day, however, caring for people requires the human touch.  Americans can best improve health care by not waiting for someone else to step up:  Speak up, step up and help bridge the gap when you or your organization can do so by extending yourself a little bit.  Speak up to help communicate and facilitate when you can.  Building health care neighborhoods filled with good neighbors throughout the community is the key.

The outcome of this latest health care reform push is only a small part of a continuing process.  Whether or not the Affordable Care Act makes financing care better or worse, the same challenges exist.  The real meaning of the enacted reforms will be determined largely by the shaping and implementation of regulations and enforcement actions which generally are conducted outside the public eye.  Americans individually and collectively clearly should monitor and continue to provide input through this critical time to help shape constructive rather than obstructive policy. Regardless of how the policy ultimately evolves, however, Americans, American businesses, and American communities still will need to roll up their sleeves and work to deal with the realities of dealing with ill, aging and disabled people and their families.  While the reimbursement and coverage map will change and new government mandates will confine providers, payers and patients, the practical needs and challenges of patients and families will be the same and confusion about the new configuration will create new challenges as patients, providers and payers work through the changes.

For Added Information and Other Resources

If you found this update of interest, you also may be interested in reviewing some of the other updates and publications authored by Ms. Stamer available including:

For Help Or More Information

If you need assistance in auditing or assessing, updating or defending your organization’s compliance, risk manage or other  internal controls practices or actions, please contact the author of this update, attorney Cynthia Marcotte Stamer here or at (469)767-8872.

Board Certified in Labor & Employment Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, management attorney and consultant Ms. Stamer is nationally and internationally recognized for more than 24 years of work helping employers and other management; employee benefit plans and their sponsors, administrators, fiduciaries; employee leasing, recruiting, staffing and other professional employment organizations; and others design, administer and defend innovative workforce, compensation, employee benefit  and management policies and practices. Her experience includes extensive work helping employers implement, audit, manage and defend union-management relations, wage and hour, discrimination and other labor and employment laws, privacy and data security, internal investigation and discipline and other workforce and internal controls policies, procedures and actions.  The Chair of the American Bar Association (ABA) RPTE Employee Benefits & Other Compensation Committee, a Council Representative on the ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits, Government Affairs Committee Legislative Chair for the Dallas Human Resources Management Association, and past Chair of the ABA Health Law Section Managed Care & Insurance Interest Group, Ms. Stamer works, publishes and speaks extensively on management, reengineering, investigations, human resources and workforce, employee benefits, compensation, internal controls and risk management, federal sentencing guideline and other enforcement resolution actions, and related matters.  She also is recognized for her publications, industry leadership, workshops and presentations on these and other human resources concerns and regularly speaks and conducts training on these matters.Her insights on these and other matters appear in the Bureau of National Affairs, Spencer Publications, the Wall Street Journal, the Dallas Business Journal, the Houston Business Journal, and many other national and local publications. For additional information about Ms. Stamer and her experience or to access other publications by Ms. Stamer see hereor contact Ms. Stamer directly.

About Solutions Law Press

Solutions Law Press™ provides business risk management, legal compliance, management effectiveness and other resources, training and education on human resources, employee benefits, data security and privacy, insurance, health care and other key compliance, risk management, internal controls and operational concerns. If you find this of interest, you also be interested reviewing some of our other Solutions Law Press resources at www.solutionslawpress.com.

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©2014 Cynthia Marcotte Stamer.  Non-exclusive right to republish granted to Solutions Law Press.  All other rights reserved.

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