California Needs 20,000 Employee Background Checks-Can It Be Done?
March 20, 2013
In the near future, many in the United States are expecting a drastic change in health insurance. The future of insurance is looming over not only those receiving it, but also employees of health insurance companies. With these changes, there will be a lot of new information and the necessity to hire extra hands to assist with the transition. In addition, working with health insurance means coming into contact with private information on a daily basis, including social security numbers, dates of birth, income data and tax returns. This also means that insurance agencies should require background checks of some sort for the new employees they will soon have.
In California, this is the issue causing controversy in the health insurance industry as well as the state. California needs to hire 20,000 employees that will assist with insurance enrollment throughout the state, starting in October. The employees will not be government employees, but rather will work for nonprofit and other community groups that are working with the state on outreach and enrollment; it’s these groups that will be responsible for recruiting and hiring these employees.The main argument is that screening all of these individuals will “create barriers for a lot of communities of color and disproportionately exclude African American and Latino men from participating. We need a massive amount of people to help with outreach,” according to Carla Saporta, health policy director at the Greenlining Institute. Additionally, they need to hire 20,000 in a matter of months, making one wonder if that is enough time to thoroughly screen each candidate.
Easily argued is that because these employees will be exposed to such sensitive information, as I mentioned earlier, it shouldn’t even be a question that background checks are needed. These employees will be reaching out to millions in the state to explain options for insurance enrollment, and with access to their personal information, the opportunity for consumer fraud would put many at risk and could be more likely if these applicants are not screened. Another aspect to take into consideration is that individuals can be screened, but the state could create an adjudication system that will give them guidelines for who should be disqualified based on the type of record the individual might have. For example, if someone has a record for drug possession, that might not affect their ability to assist with enrollment.
Covered California, the state agency implementing the federal health care law, insists that there is no question for them that each person who will be enrolling consumers should have a background check and be fingerprinted. Many are also saying that this will prevent the state from hiring enough workers due to the elimination of candidates with a record. Not only this, but cost could be an issue as background screening for 20,000 workers would run a total of $1.4 million.
Yet another point has been made that those with criminal records can still assist with the enrollment process, but they do not have to come into contact with sensitive information, according to Paul Stephens, director of policy and advocacy at the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse in San Diego.
While there are differing opinions, hopefully the state will move forward with this proposal and consider that a background check does not mean that every individual with a criminal record will necessarily be restricted from employment.
Read the full article here.