New York state insurance regulators are asking insurers how ready they really are for a big influenza epidemic.

The New York State Department of Insurance is asking for extra information from health insurers, but it also is asking other insurers to participate in the data call. Completed questionnaires are due Oct. 15.

In the questionnaire, the New York department asks health insurers about their progress with tasks such as developing the technology to support employee telecommuting and identifying the employees and enrollees who would get flu shots first.

The department also asks insurers whether they have developed a charitable-giving program to help the employees who might be hardest hit by a flu “pandemic.”

The department asks all insurers whether they permit telecommuting, how much of an insurer’s workforce the insurer’s telecommuting systems could support, and whether insurers have the ability to rapidly cross-train staff members to maintain critical business functions.

“How would your company communicate to its employees regarding a health crisis?” the New York department asks. “List your company’s top three communication methods.”

A copy of the New York flu pandemic data call letter is available here.

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