Electronic fund transfer rule set for 2014, may save $9B

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The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has released a new rule that will "cut red tape for doctors, hospitals and health plans," according to a release published on the agency's website. Along with a previously issued regulation, the rule is projected to save up to $9 billion over the next 10 years. The regulation adopts operating rules for making healthcare claim payments electronically and describing adjustments to claim payments.

Along with a previously issued regulation, HHS has projected the rule will save up to $9 billion over the next 10 years.

Studies have found that the average physician spends three weeks a year on billing and insurance related tasks, and, in a physician’s office, two-thirds of a full-time employee per physician is necessary to conduct these tasks, according to the release. The rule is designed to help providers save time and costs by electronically receiving payments and automating the posting of payments.

The operating rules build upon industry-wide healthcare electronic fund transfer (EFT) standards that HHS adopted in January. Together, the previously issued EFT standards and the EFT and electronic remittance advice operating rules are projected to save between $2.7 billion and more than $9 billion in administrative costs over 10 years by reducing inefficient manual administrative processes for physician practices, hospitals and health plans.

The regulation announced Aug. 9 may be viewed at www.ofr.gov/inspection.aspx and will be effective upon its publication in the Federal Register on Aug. 10. The comment period closes on Oct. 9.

The compliance date for operating rules for the healthcare electronic funds transfers and remittance advice transaction is Jan. 1, 2014.