Federal officials should consider making intermediary entities providing services to health plans--such as benefits managers, third-party administrators and repricers--eligible for receiving a unique health plan identification number, according to recommendations recently sent to the Department of Health and Human Services.

The feds also should clarify the definition of "health plan" as specified in the HIPAA regulations, the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics, an HHS advisory body, recommends. Now that the Accountable Care Act mandates adoption of a unique health plan identifier--as HIPAA did some 14 years ago--the definition of a plan needs updating.

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