Aetna digital ID cards and referrals, Texas STAR Kids

May 18, 2016

I ran across a few interesting tidbits this week that I thought I would share.

Aetna digital ID Cards

I didn’t know that Aetna was moving to digital ID cards this quickly. Have any of you received any of these digital cards? If so is it causing you to change your workflow at all?

They posted this blurb in their provider bulletin this month:

Office News Digital ID cards and eligibility and benefits inquiry

If an Aetna patient shows you a digital or printed copy of their ID card, you should accept it. Old member ID cards could cost you and your patients’ time and money. We’ve got you covered. When you reference a digital ID the information is up to date. That’s why we’ve given you and our members the ability to access digital member IDs.

aetna digital ID

If a member doesn’t have a copy of their ID card, you should submit an eligibility and benefits inquiry using their name and date of birth. You should complete an eligibility and benefits inquiry for every patient at every visit. You’ll get a response with everything you need to know about your patient.

Learn more Check out our new reference tool and tutorial.


Department of Veteran Affairs Fee Basis Program Eligibility Notice

April 27, 2016

Change Healthcare (formerly Emdeon) has posted this notice numerous times and I thought it was worth passing along.

The Dept of Veterans Affairs (VA) has observed a high volume of EDI transactions rejected due to invalid member ids. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) would like to remind providers that new Veteran Health Identification Cards were issued to every veteran enrolled in VA health care, which includes the Veterans Choice Program. Each member ID card contains a new Member Identification (ID) Number and Plan ID. The veteran’s Social Security number (SSN) is no longer printed on health identification cards. Please also note that all inquiries for a veteran should be sent to payer ID for VAFEE and only spouses and dependents of Veterans should be sent to VAHAC or the member eligibility will not be found.

VA CARD CopyAt the present time, providers must continue to use the Veteran’s SSN as the member ID when submitting EDI transactions to VA Fee Basis Programs. Per the payer’s instructions, Emdeon will reject EDI transactions that do not contain the veteran’s SSN as the member id. Providers should also ignore the Plan ID number printed on ID cards and continue to submit real-time transactions to Emdeon Payer ID VAFEE or 00231 for VA Fee Basis Program.

In the future, providers will be able to use the new veterans’ member ids when submitting EDI transactions, but an ETA has not yet been provided. The payer will provide more information on this matter as it becomes available and will publish updates on the VA ListServ Community Newsletter and Purchased Care website.


The new cards have a 10 digit ID instead of the SSN so make sure you ask for the SSN when seeing these patients.

UHC To Exit ACA in 2017 | BCBS of TX threatening to Drop HCA

April 19, 2016

UHC Getting out of the ACA Business Next Year

UHC has officially announced that their getting rid of their ACA business in all but 4 markets next year. I haven’t see the list of the states that will remain but I’ll post it when it’s released. It will be interesting to see who follows in their foot steps.

BCBS of TX is Threatening to  Drop HCA Hospitals from Their Network May 1st

This might be a power move by BCBS to move the contract negotiations along. Dropping 44 HCA hospitals would be a huge deal.

Aetna Rolls Out New Consumer Plans effective 1/1/2016

December 30, 2015

This update from Aetna regarding their new consumer plans came across my desk this week. I think this is the first major payer I’ve seen that won’t be issuing paper/plastic cards.


On January 1, 2016, we’ll be launching new individual consumer plans in four markets. They are called Aetna LeapSM or Innovation Health LeapSM plans.

The counties/cities these plans are available in are:

  • AZ – Maricopa
  • PA – Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Philadelphia, Montgomery
  • NC– Anson, Cabarrus, Cleveland, Gaston, Lincoln, Mecklenburg, Stanley, Union
  • SC – Lancaster, York
  • VA – Alexandria City, Arlington County, Clarke County, Fairfax City, Fairfax County, Falls Church City, Frederick County, Fredericksburg City, Loudoun County, Manassas City, Manassas Park City, Page County, Prince William County, Shenandoah County, Spotsylvania County, Stafford County, Warren County, Winchester City

As of January 1, we expect to have approximately 150,000 members enrolled in these new consumer Leap plans.

Important Leap Plan Information

  • Payor ID – Consumer/Leap plan claims should be submitted using Payor ID 60054.
  • Member ID Card – Members with Leap plan benefits will not receive a plastic ID card upon enrollment.  They will have access to a digital member ID. They can view or print their digital ID card from their computer or mobile device. A member can provide their physician with a photocopy or a digital version of their ID card right from their smartphone.
    • The digital ID card is an electronic version of the Aetna member’s ID card.  All information on the digital ID is the same as what is viewable on a physical card.
  • Member ID Number – Member ID numbers for Leap Plans will be 12 digits in total. They are ten digits plus two additional digits, based on subscriber or dependents, with no hyphen.
  • A Leap Plan member ID will always begin with “10.”
  • The subscriber’s two additional digits are always “00.” A dependent’s two additional digits will be “01, 02, etc. This is a change from how a member ID appears on a non-Consumer Business ID card where the subscriber is always “01.”
    • Subscriber = 100000134500
    • Dependent #1 = 10000013501
    • Dependent #2 = 10000013502


Cigna settles lawsuits, Anthem changes medicare plan names, and more

December 1, 2015

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I wanted to share a few interesting tidbits that crossed my desk this week.

Cigna settles shareholder lawsuits over Anthem merger

Anthem changes the names of some of their Medicare Advantage Plans. Click the states to see the announcements

Connecticut, Maine, and New Hampshire

Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, Wisconsin


UHC Lowers Profits Estimates Blaming Affordable Care Act

CMS to Cut Medicare and Medicaid Funding to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Houston

CMS Announces Medicare Part A and B Premiums and Deductibles

November 12, 2015

CMS sent out a press release regarding the 2016 Medicare premiums and deductibles yesterday. I didn’t see any significant changes for Part B but I’ve listed the Part A changes below. You can find the full press release here.

Deductibles and Coinsurance for 2016

Part A Deductible and Coinsurance Amounts for Calendar Years 2015 and 2016 Type of Cost Sharing



Inpatient hospital deductible $1,260


Daily coinsurance for 61st-90th Day 315


Daily coinsurance for lifetime reserve days 630


SNF coinsurance 157.50 161.00

New CMS Audit Suspension Policy Effective 10/1/2015

September 29, 2015

CMS recently sent out an announcement about a new audit policy that they’re implementing for their eligibility transactions. This only affects transactions being sent through their EDI system not transactions being sent through DDE. The short version of the policy is as follows:

1. Beginning 10/1, CMS will start randomly auditing transactions in search of instances where the same NPI and HICN are sent multiple times in one day.

2. If they identfy instances where the same beneficiary is being sent excessively by the same provider, they’re going to suspend that NPI from using their eligibility system (HETS).

3. The NPI will remain suspended until a written corrective active plan is submitted to and accepted by CMS.

You should have received some version of this notification from your eligibility vendor but in case you haven’t I’ll link you to the original notice. Please take this very seriously. If you have any automated processes that will repeatedly send the same member, please consider reviewing this process.



Register Now for the CMS National Provider ICD-10 Call

August 24, 2015

CMS will be holding a call to discuss coding tips and updates on the status of ICD 10 this Thursday at 2:30 ET. Sorry for the short notice. See the announcement below.

Thursday, August 27; 2:30-4pm ET

To Register: Visit MLN Connects Event Registration. Space may be limited, register early.

Don’t miss the August 27 MLN Connects Call — five weeks before ICD-10 implementation on October 1, 2015. CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt will be opening the call with a national implementation update. Then, Sue Bowman from the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) and Nelly Leon-Chisen from the American Hospital Association (AHA) will be joining us with coding guidance and tips, along with updates from CMS.


  • National implementation update, CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt
  • Coding guidance, AHA and AHIMA
  • How to get answers to coding questions
  • Claims that span the implementation date
  • Results from acknowledgement and end-to-end testing weeks
  • Provider resources

Target Audience: Medical coders, physicians, physician office staff, nurses and other non-physician practitioners, provider billing staff, health records staff, vendors, educators, system maintainers, laboratories, skilled nursing facilities, home health agencies, and all Medicare providers.

UHC ICD-10 Edits

August 7, 2015

I’m getting inundated with ICD updates from the payers and clearinghouses now that 10/1 is getting near. I thought I would share some of these from time to time.


 Date:  8/6/2015

ICD-10 Code Edits Applied By UnitedHealthcare

Oct. 1, 2015 is the compliance date for the transition to ICD-10 coding to replace ICD-9. These codes are used by physicians and health care professionals to record and identify diagnoses and procedures for claims payments. ICD-10 affects diagnosis and inpatient procedure coding only. It does not affect current procedural terminology (CPT) coding for outpatient procedures.

ICD-10 edits currently in place are shown in the grid below, subject to change prior to Oct 1. Please refer to the Enhanced Claim Edits section of for the complete list of edits applied by UnitedHealthcare.

optum screen shot

Based on ANSI X12 TR3 compliance regulations, WEDI SNIP Types indicated are enhanced at a pre-adjudication level during HIPAA validation. This enables UnitedHealthcare claim submitters to identify and correct rejected information prior to the claim’s acceptance into our adjudication system for processing.


We encourage providers to check claim submission reports on a regular basis and in a timely manner. They can view tracking your electronic claims to learn more about electronic reports and rejections. The UnitedHealthcare ICD-10 website contains many tools and resources to assist submitters with the transition to ICD-10. Our newest is the Physician ICD-10 Coding Practice Tool that allows providers to practice selecting ICD-10 codes for various clinical scenarios across 35 medical specialties.

If you have any questions, please contact Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) Support:


UnitedHealthcare Commercial UnitedHealthcare Medicare SolutionsUnitedHealthcare West EDI transaction support form  or 800-842-1109
UnitedHealthcare Community Plan EDI transaction support form or or 800-210-8315
UnitedHealthcare Oxford or 800-599-4334


*Exceptions:  Harvard Pilgrim (04271), Medica HealthCare Plans (78857), Preferred Care Partners (65088), The Alliance (88461) and TRICARE West (99726)


Thank you,


Centene to Buy Health Net in $6.3 Billion Health-Care Deal

July 8, 2015

I’m not sure how I missed this one. More acquisition news.


Centene Corp. agreed to buy Health Net Inc. for about $6.3 billion in cash and stock, creating a combination of two smaller U.S. health insurers ahead of an expected round of mergers among the industry’s giants.

Health Net investors will get 0.622 shares of Centene and $28.25 in cash for each share they hold, the companies said in a statement on Thursday. The implied price of $78.57 a share is 21 percent more than Health Net’s closing stock price Wednesday.

The deal gives Centene the biggest market share among private administrators of Medicaid, the federally funded health program for the poor — a bet that the U.S. government will keep playing a larger role in health care. The transaction would give Centene a bigger presence in the California Medicaid program, which is the largest in the U.S. with more than 12 million individuals, and provides an entry into the Medicare market.

The transaction makes sense, said Peter Costa, an analyst at Wells Fargo & Co. “Centene is the largest Medicaid managed-care company, but has only minor market share in California, where Health Net has been rapidly growing,” he said.

Health insurers in the U.S. are looking at mergers to cut costs and keep profits expanding after enjoying an influx of new business from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which brought previously uninsured people into the market for the first time. At the same time, the law put pressure on profit margins by imposing new fees and mandating companies spend at least 80 percent to 85 percent of premiums on medical claims.

Merger Madness

Aetna Inc. is said to be nearing an acquisition of Humana Inc., Bloomberg reported last week. And on June 20, Anthem Inc. went public with a bid for Cigna Corp. UnitedHealth Group Inc., the largest U.S. health insurer, could also make a bid for Aetna.

It’s also possible UnitedHealth could jump in with a competing offer for Health Net, said Ana Gupte, an analyst at Leerink Partners LLC.

Centene will assume about $500 million in debt as part of its transaction with Health Net, which the companies expect to close in early 2016. The buyer plans to fund the purchase using its existing cash and debt financing, with Wells Fargo & Co. providing $2.7 billion in financing commitments, the companies said.

The combined company would have more than 10 million members and an estimated $37 billion in pro forma premium and service revenues for 2015, and the acquisition would boost earnings by about 10 percent in the first year, according to the statement.

Stock Moves

Health Net rose 11 percent to $72.13 at 11:38 a.m. in New York. Centene dropped 6.1 percent to $75.95.

Centene Chief Executive Officer Michael Neidorff said he’s not concerned about the market’s reaction.

“This is a very quiet market day, we all know that,” he said in a telephone interview. “As people understand the benefits of this transaction, it will take care of itself.”

Neidorff, who’s also Centene’s chairman, will be chairman, president and CEO of the combined company, which will be based in St. Louis.

Health Net CEO Jay Gellert will help with the transition, the companies said. If Gellert departs after the deal closes, he could be eligible for a golden parachute worth $38 million at the implied offer price, according to a Bloomberg analysis of the company’s most recent proxy filing.

Allen & Co. and Evercore Partners Inc. were the financial advisers to Centene on the transaction, with Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP offering legal counsel. JPMorgan Chase & Co. is Health Net’s financial adviser with Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP serving as legal counsel.