KS Legislature Debates Health Care Privacy Disclosures

February 23, 2004 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Employers, agents and underwriters are asking the Kansas Legislature to compel insurers to give detailed information about employees to employers regarding claims history, including specific information on individual claims of $10,000 or more.

This group, which includes the Kansas Association of Insurance Agents and the Wichita Association of Health Underwriters, says the information is necessary to effectively manage health care dollars and competitively market health plans to a bevy of insurance providers. Without passage of the bill, which would apply to employers with 50 or more employees, companies could effectively be held hostage by the current provider, according to a Wichita Eagle report.

However, opposition comes from the likes of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas and the Kansas Association of Health Care Plans. The other side says its hands are tied by provision on the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and that current aggregate data releases is more than sufficient for decision making. Any more data released, the group holds, would put insurers and their ilk in jeopardy of revealing information that an employee has a right to keep private.

Robert Langhofer, vice president for employee benefit sales with Fiserv of Kansas, disagrees with the large insurers, and says aggregate information is not enough. To back up his contention, he argues detailed information on large claims, including whether the patient will continue to have large claims, is a significant part of setting rates to manage risk.