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Here's where you can find out about what CHS is up to, what's coming in the future and events. Keep up to date with CHS happenings and find out what's on our calendar.

SIIA TRADE SHOW

It is time for the annual SIIA National Conference and Expo. As in years past, Complete Health Systems will be exhibiting at the show, which will be held on October 21 - 23, 2013 in Chicago, IL. The conference's theme is "Outsmarting Reform".

Be sure to stop by booth #500, so we can show you how CHS can help improve how you manage self-insured programs.

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RBS (REGULATORY BUDGET SENTINEL)

MENTAL HEALTH COVERAGE INCLUDED IN MARKETPLACE INSURANCE PLANS
By: Nicola Crean, CHS Marketing Coordinator

In America, mental health illnesses affect millions of Americans, yet coverage for this type of care has been limited in the past. Under the Affordable Care Act, insurance offered through the marketplace will now be required to expand in order to cover “essential health benefits”, which include mental health services.

According to the Obama administration, this is one of the largest expansions of mental health coverage in a generation. Promoting preventative services like screening for specific diseases, in addition to counseling and psychotherapy will now be covered regardless of preexisting conditions.

“It seems as life gets more stressful for people, we see more distress and despair which can exacerbate emotional and mental difficulty,” said Pete Linnett, founder and CEO of Life Adjustment Team, in an article published in DigitalJournal.com. “People turn to substances just to get by and end up trapped. The very thing that they use for comfort becomes a tormentor on top of everything else.”

The MentalHealthH.gov website reports that approximately one in five adults have experienced some form of mental health issue or illness. Another staggering statistic is that one in 20 Americans live with a serious mental illness, but not all of these individuals are being treated or have access to medical care.

“Only 20 to 25 percent of people who have mental health issues actually get help,” said Dr. John Duby, the chair of the mental Health Leadership Workgroup at the American Academy of Pediatrics in a CBS article. “Part of it is willingness, part of it is access to a supportive system, part of it is whether they are in a place where they feel comfortable going.”

Others feel that the stigma attached to mental disorders can prevent people from seeking treatment. Knowing how common it can be and accepting that fact is what experts believe is necessary to combat the stereotype that is attached to mental health.

“All of us know someone facing behavioral health issues, said Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius in a speech delivered in Kansas City. “We need to get rid of the idea that it’s somebody else. It’s all of us.”

Recognizing the need for treatment is a major challenge that health care professionals face every day. With limited number of mental health professionals even available, many primary care providers are being the first to address concerns with patients, which has proven to become a more popular practice.

In an article published in WSJ.com, University of Washington psychiatrist Wayne Katon reports that this is becoming a much more common practice within the last five years. Typically, primary doctors will address the patient’s initial concerns. At that point, they can personally introduce the individual to counselors or other mental health professionals that are better equipped to handle this type of case.

“There’s a tremendous amount of work to do in order to address the needs of individuals with mental health concerns,” said Duby.

Including primary care doctors into the early treatment of mental illnesses have resulted in positive outcomes, which have been noticed by both patients and providers. With the new health care laws coming in to effect, it will only increase the level of success of this type of approach. Allowing more mental health services to be covered will play a significant role in providing specialized care to more Americans.

GO TO WORK OR NOT WHEN SUFFERING FROM THE FLU?

By: Nicola Crean, CHS Marketing Coordinator

As flu season approaches, many people take proactive steps towards staying healthy in an effort to avoid contracting illnesses. Even some of the healthiest individuals will inevitably face flu-like symptoms regardless of what preventative measures they take.

Once the symptoms occur, many people struggle with the decision of whether or not to attend work. With upcoming meetings and tight deadlines, it is understandable why so many Americans choose to suck it up and go to work versus dealing with the repercussions of being absent.

“You have to ask yourself the key question,” said Michael Bagner, MD, physician at St. Luke’s/Roosevelt Hospital and Medical Director of Roosevelt Hospital Doctors’ Offices in New York in an article published on MedicineNet.com. “Are you a danger to yourself or to others?”

This may seem like an easy question, but many employees do not take their coworkers or clients’ health into consideration whenmaking the decision to go to work or stay home.

According to a Kimberly Clark survey, approximately 60 percent of respondents report going to work when feeling sick. In fact, 30 percent of those sick workers say that they feel their presence is too important to their company’s business operations to afford themselves a day off.

Coming to work sick can still have a negative impact on productivity. Naturally, employees that do not feel entirely healthy will not be able to perform to their best ability, which is referred to as ‘presenteeism’. This can have a significant financial impact on companies.

MoneyMatters101.com reports that U.S. companies face a total of $180 billion per year in lost productivity due to ‘presenteeism’. More employers are beginning to look at their policies in order to avoid this type of loss. Many are becomingly more assertive on their sick policies, hoping to make it more acceptable for ill employees to stay home.

Although missing work may seem like a set-back in the workplace to some, many health care professionals agree that working through an illness can often prolong the symptoms. By ignoring the illness, some employees may face a lengthened sickness; in addition to more time out of the office then if they would have rested during the onset of flu symptoms.

Going to work ill can have more than individual repercussions. Employees also run the risk of infecting coworkers and spreading their illness throughout the office.

“Germs can be spread throughout the workplace and elsewhere when people touch hot spots that have been contaminated by the people who are ill,” said Dr. Charles Gerba, Professor of Microbiology at the University of Arizona in an article published in Consumeraffairs.com. “That’s why individual efforts can make such a big difference.”

Whether the burden is on the employees to make the judgment call or companies to change the mentality of their workforce, experts agree that there needs to be a more conscious effort to discourage sick workers from coming to the office. Looking at alternatives, like working from home, may be a good option for employees who simply feel too guilty being absent.

“Working from home is definitely a better option so you’re no spreading the virus to other people,” said One Medical’s Natasha Withers, D.O., in a Huffington Post article. “But your body needs time to health and rest. If you’re trying to push yourself, it’s going to take a lot longer to get better.”

Both businesses and employers can agree that getting the job done at work requires a healthy workforce. Adjusting the mindset of workers and the company culture, in general, will be beneficial to the entire corporate community.  

THERE ARE SOME BEHAVIORS YOU JUST CAN'T REGULATE.

By: Chacko Kurian

Regulations depend on carrots and sticks. If you don’t pay your taxes, there will be serious consequences – the stick. If you buy a home with a home loan, we’ll let you take the interest payment deduction on your taxes – the carrot. The HITECH Act has a number of sticks associated with the security of Protected Health Information (PHI). We at CHS will be addressing the issue of security of PHI in forthcoming articles. There is, under some circumstances, one link in the security chain that no regulation can affect -the uninformed behavior of the user. This article addresses one method where cyber criminals make unwitting users partners in a security breach.

Prior to founding Apple Computers, the Steves (Wozniak and Jobs) could be found ripping off Ma Bell using a blue box to make long distance phone calls (domestic and international) for free. The subculture that reveled in this activity called “phreaking” was probably the progenitor of the subculture of hackers who, today, like to hack computer systems just because they’re there. There is the story of Steve Woz(niak) actually making a “phreak” phone call to the Vatican and asking to speak to the Pope while pretending to be Henry Kissinger with a think German accent. These are the guys who later found legal ways to take your money.

Before the age of digital telephone switching systems, telephone switches reset trunk (long distance) lines with a tone at a specific frequency – 2600Hz. This meant that the trunk line was disconnected at one end and available for dialing at the other end. The dialing was also accomplished by tones at preset multiple frequencies. How did one get those frequencies? Legend has it that the 2600Hz frequency was discovered by accident by Joe Engressia, known among phreakers as ‘Joybubbles’, at the age of 7! He was apparently able to whistle at that frequency and so attach himself to the dialing end of an available long distance line.

But how does one progress from knowing that you could get a trunk line to using it to make free long distance calls. In 1954, the then undivided Bell System published an article in the Bell System Technical Journal about the basics of signaling using multi-frequency tones. This piece of information by itself was of little use. The second and final piece of the puzzle was published, again courtesy of Ma Bell, in the November 1960. Bell System Technical Journal in an article called “Signaling systems for control of telephone switching”. This article published the actual multi-frequency tones used to control the switches. From that information to the creation of the reputed “Blue Box” that became a clandestine product was a short step. With one of these boxes, anybody was able pick up a phone and make free long distance calls.

To be able to win this questionable prize, the phreaker required two pieces of information and they were found in two locations, but once they were combined, the information became quite powerful. Today – cybercriminals put two pieces of information discovered from different locations together to achieve their nefarious goals..

Spear Phishing is the technique by which pieces of information stolen from different locations are put together, by cybercriminals, to steal your identity, your money and anything of value. How does this work? Unlike the shot gun approach taken by those Nigerian scam artists who send out millions of emails, the Spear Phisher is looking for prey with a small email blast to very targeted prospects. All they need to start the process is one piece of information – your email address and sometimes your name. They don’t need anything like a credit card number, the password to your on-line bank account or your social security number– well, not yet. The attack is quick and over in less than a day, before security and software companies have an opportunity to react.

A typical Spear Phishing attack starts with an email that comes to you and looks something like this, courtesy of the Microsoft Safety and Security center

Remember they already have your email address and sometimes your name so the “Hello” salutation is not so innocuous. It looks very familiar but the highlighted items should make you suspicious. If you examine the links you will find that they link to unsecured and unfamiliar sites as shown below:

Once you click on the link and enter the information they’re asking for, they’ve got you.

Another variation of this technique is to send you an email making you an offer that sounds reasonable on the surface, but requires you to open an attachment with the details of the offer. Again, once you open that attachment, they’ve got you. What happens behind the scenes is that the attachment has a robot program that can do almost anything that they want it to do. It can install a keystroke logger and send your internet banking or credit card passwords to the cybercriminal. It can give control of your computer over to the cybercriminal and so enable more of these schemes to be run from your computer. The possibilities are endless.

Sometimes the Spear Phisher makes the email look like its coming from your boss – again remember he has email addresses and names. The email may require you to give up password and other authentication information in order to perform a “security audit” or an “account verification”.

Key to making this criminal endeavor work is that it requires your participation to either provide the missing information or open the attachment. So the best defense it to verify the email by contacting the sender by phone or alternate method if the email looks suspicious. A good antivirus program installed on your computer can help too.Remember for the scheme to work it requires your participation.

We might as well brace for a number of these email attacks. Recently Epsilon, a division of Alliance Data suffered an illegal entry on its client’s email databases. This is the company that processes marketing communications for loyalty programs like Marriott Rewards, Citibank Advantage and many other large organizations. Imagine the rich information for cybercriminals that email addresses, names and loyalty program associations can provide. If you belong to the Marriott Rewards program like I do, expect an incredibly valuable offer to come to you via email. Do not open the attachment even though the logo looks almost right and the text has only one or two spelling mistakes.

There’s lots of regulations coming from Washington DC these days, but I don’t think they can think one up for this.

CHS SOFTWARE UPDATE

CHS Software you may want to use

Often, we at CHS, are guilty of not informing you of products or features that we have implemented over the past year that you may want to use. This year we have rounded out our individual enrollment, billing and administration offering with a full cycle product. If you sell individual policies or sell voluntary products in addition to your regular employer sponsored group health offerings, this may interest you.

"Full Cycle" in this context means the following:
i) taking the application for enrollment of the individual/family on the web, after getting their responses to qualifying/underwriting questions,
ii) enrolling them in the plan of choice,,
iii) billing their credit card or bank account at the appropriate frequency, i.e. monthly, quarterly, semi-annually or annually,
iv) applying the payments received against the appropriate invoices
v) disbursing premium/commission and other payments to carriers, brokers/agents and other suppliers
vi) updates to Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable and General Ledger without manual intervention after set-up.

We would like to say that all of the above happens "automatically" (a grossly over-used word) but it doesn't. It happens with minimal, but appropriate, human intervention. For example, there are checks and balances in place to make sure that premium billing adjustments owing to changes in family composition or product choices are made accurately. The web enrollment product, CHS iCoverNow, has to be customized with your logo, color palette, questions and response logic. Users of our product like it. It has allowed them to grow into areas where they couldn't before. We believe that this will interest administrators of individual health plans who sell to the public at large and may become a valuable tool in the context of health care reform.