Insurance system turning to Web
- By Dibya Sarkar
- Jan 07, 2002
The West Virginia Public Employee Insurance Agency, which administers programs
for more than 200,000 public employees, retirees and dependents, plans to
install a Web-based architecture to streamline costs and improve service.
The agency, or PEIA (www.wvpeia.com), last week
issued a request for information for the new insurance eligibility and billing
system, expected to be functioning before July 2003.
The state agency, which manages more than $400 million in revenue annually,
is responsible for the health insurance needs of state government employees
and state teachers as well as for participating state-funded colleges and
universities, county boards of education and other municipal services.
"The current system is fraught with high administrative costs," said
Phil Shimer, the agency's deputy director. "It's difficult to support. It's
insufficient to handle the volume of data we have. It's been prone to errors
and the subject of several legislative audits. We're spending a lot of time
and money on maintaining it."
Shimer said the current IBM Corp. AS/400-based system also is difficult
to access, and only PEIA staff members and benefits coordinators from individual
agencies can do so. Eventually, a Web-based system would allow policyholders
to view their information or, at least, conduct the once-a-year open enrollment
themselves, he added.
The new system would also have to be compliant with the Health Insurance
Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, a federal law designed to protect
people's health privacy and improve efficiency of health care delivery.
Agency officials are uncertain whether a system that fits all these
needs exists and whether the agency can buy or lease it. It's unlikely that
the current system would be retrofitted and a new multimillion-dollar system
would be built and installed, he said. The RFI, he said, would help shape
a request for proposals once the agency knows about the kinds of systems
Shimer also said several other state agencies, including those that
administer the children's health insurance program and public retirement
plans, are considering joining the project.
Interested vendors must respond to the agency by Jan. 31.