The Departments of Treasury, Labor, and Health and Human Services (collectively, the “Departments”) recently issued a set of Frequently Asked Questions (Part XV) (the “FAQs”), which provide that, starting in 2014, employers and health insurance issuers must implement two new requirements under ACA that apply to non-grandfathered group health plans:

(1) a prohibition on discriminating against health care providers that are licensed or certified under state law; and

(2) a mandate to cover routine patient costs or services for participation in certain clinical trials for life-threatening diseases.

The FAQs state that the Departments do not intend to issue regulations implementing these two requirements in the near future and therefore employers and health insurance issuers must implement the requirements based on a good-faith, reasonable interpretation of the statutory provisions.  The FAQs also delay, until at least 2015, implementation of requirements to disclose publicly certain information regarding group health plans, such as financial information, cost-sharing requirements, and data on claim denials and enrollment.
Continue Reading New FAQs Issued on Nondiscrimination, Clinical Trial, and Reporting Requirements under the Affordable Care Act

On April 23, 2013, the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and the Treasury (the “Departments”) issued an updated template and sample completed template for summaries of benefits and coverage (“SBCs”) that must be provided for coverage beginning in 2014.  The Departments also released Frequently Asked Questions that include the following guidance:

  • The only change to the existing SBC template is the addition of statements regarding whether a group health plan offers minimum essential coverage that meets the requirements for providing minimum value.  (See ACA’s Cost-Sharing Limitations on Employer Health Coverage for an explanation of the minimum essential coverage and minimum value requirements.)  If an employer or issuer is unable to modify the SBC template to include this additional information and continues to use the template provided for 2013, the new information for 2014 may be disclosed in a separate document that is provided with the SBC.  No other changes have been made to the SBC template, including to the examples that must be included, to the instructions for providing SBCs, or to the uniform glossary.
  • The Departments have extended for another year enforcement relief that they issued last year.  Pursuant to this relief, the Departments will not impose penalties on plans and issuers that are working diligently and in good faith to provide the required SBC content in a format that is consistent with the final regulations.  In addition, the Departments have also extended the safe harbor for providing SBCs electronically to participants and beneficiaries in connection with their online enrollment or online renewal of coverage under the plan.
  • Because annual limits on essential health benefits will no longer be permissible starting in 2014, a plan may, at its option, delete the following row that appears on the first page of the SBC template:  “Is there an overall limit on what the plan pays?”.  Otherwise, the plan should answer “no” to this question.
  • If an educational institution, such as an institution of higher education, maintains insured health coverage for its students, the institution will have met its requirements for providing SBCs if another party, such as the health insurance issuer, timely provides completed SBCs to the students.
    Continue Reading Departments Publish Updated SBC Template, Making Few Changes for 2014