Experts with the National Association of Health Underwriters are recommending that health insurance agents begin preparing immediately to comply with the new state and federal financial privacy standards.
Some state insurance regulators may go easier on insurance agencies than others, but Jessica Waltman, NAHUs manager of health policy, advised agents here for the Arlington, Va.-based trade groups annual convention that they should comply with the tougher states standards.
“There are tons and tons of lawyers just looking for someone to sue,” Waltman said. “God forbid that any of you be the example.”
Congress called for the development of health privacy standards in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.
Federal regulators appear to be months away from final adoption of the HIPAA health privacy regulation, according to Janet Stokes Trautwein, NAHUs director of federal policy analysis.
Many states are waiting for final approval of the HIPAA health privacy standards before adopting final health privacy standards of their own, Trautwein said.
Congress included federal financial privacy standards in the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999.
The federal financial information standards, which states are already starting to implement, do apply to health insurance agents, because the rules protect almost everything in a customers insurance records, including the customers home telephone number, Waltman said.