CMS: Better EFT Off to Great Start
Government officials are enthusiastic about what they see as early success of the HIPAA electronic funds transfer (EFT) standard. January 2014 was the first month health plans were required to comply with the new standards and rules aimed at making EFT transactions easier and faster.
Similar to financial transactions such a payroll direct deposits, EFT allows providers to conduct electronic payment and remittance advice transactions. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) said the goal of EFT standards and operating rules is to make EFT transactions easier for providers to use and to incorporate in their business processes. For clinical practices and hospitals, EFT cost savings will come mainly from a decrease in the time spent on payment processing-related tasks, the federal agency maintained.
More than 8 million healthcare payments were made using EFT through the Automated Clearing House (ACH) network in January. CMS said the high utilization continued through the first quarter, with a 32 percent increase in EFT transactions over 4th quarter 2013. CMS estimates there will be a 6 to 8 percent increase in EFT use for heatlhcare payments from 2014 to 2018.