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Proposed Changes for the Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC)

January 16 - Posted at 6:35 PM Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

On December 22, 2014, the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued proposed regulations for changes to the Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC).


The proposed regulations clarify when and how a plan administrator or insurer must provide an SBC, shortens the SBC template, adds a third cost example, and revises the uniform glossary. The proposed regulations provide new information and also incorporate several FAQs that have been issued since the final SBC regulations were issued in 2012.


These proposed changes are effective for plan years and open enrollment period beginning on or after September 1, 2015. Comments on the proposed regulations will be accepted until March 2,2015 and are encourages on many of the provisions.


New Template


The new SBC template eliminates a significant amount of information that the Departments characterized as not being required by law and/or as having been identified by consumer testing as less useful for choosing coverage.


The sample completed SBC template for a standard group health plan has been reduced from four double-sided pages to two-and-a-half double-sided pages. Some of the other changes include:


  • An additional cost example for a simple foot fracture treated in an emergency room, which will be added to the two current examples. This new example is proposed as a health problem that any individual could experience, while the two current examples- having a baby and managing type 2 diabetes- affect only certain individuals.
  • The coverage example calculator will be authorized for continued use and updated claims and pricing data for the two existing exampled and the third example will be provided.
  • References to annual limits for essential health benefits (EHBs) and preexisting condition exclusions  will be removed.
  • Information regarding minimum essential coverage (MEC) and minimum value (MV) has been revised and must be included in the SBC. This effectively ends a temporary enforcement safe harbor that previously permitted statements about MEC and MV to be included in a cover letter rather than in the SBC.
  • Premium information may be included in an SBC, but it is not required.
  • All SBCs must include an issuer website where the individual policy or group certificate of coverage can be reviewed and obtained. Plan administrators are not required to include a website separate from the issuer website.
  • SBCs for individual policies will be required to disclose whether abortion services are covered or excluded and whether coverage is limited to services for which federal funding is allowed.


Glossary Revisions

Revisions to the uniform glossary have also been proposed. The glossary must be available to plan participants upon request. Some definitions have been changed and new medical terms such as claim, screening, referral and specialty drug have been added. Additional terms related to health care reform such as individual responsibility requirement, minimum value and cost-sharing reductions have also been added.


Paper vs Electronic Distribution

SBCs may continue to be provided electronically to group plan participants in connection with their online enrollment or online renewal of coverage. SBCs may also be provided electronically to participants who request an SBC online. These individuals must also have the option to receive a paper copy upon request.


SBCs for self-insured non-federal government plans may continue to be provided electronically if the plan conforms to either the electronic distribution requirements that apply ERISA plan or the rules that apply to individual health insurance coverage.


Types of Plans to Which SBCs Apply

The regulations confirm that SBCs are not required for expatriate health plans, Medicare Advantage plans or plans that qualify as excepted benefits. Excepted benefits include:


  • Employee Assistance Plans (EAPs) that meet the requirements to be excepted benefits
  • Health Savings Account (HSAs) because they are not group health plans
  • Dental and vision coverage that meet the requirements to be excepted benefits


SBCs are required for:

  • Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs) because they are considered group health plans
  • Health Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) if they do not qualify as excepted benefits

IRS Releases Minimum Value Plan Guidance

November 06 - Posted at 3:00 PM Tagged: , , , , , , , , ,

On November 4, 2014,  the IRS released Notice 2014-69 which outlines that health plans that fail to provide substantial coverage for in-patient hospitalization services or for physician services (or both) referred to as Non-Hospital/Non-Physician Services Plan) are now not considered as providing the minimum value coverage as intended by the minimum value plan requirements for the employer mandate under ACA.


For employers who have already entered into a binding written commitment to adopt, or have begun enrolling employees in, a Non-Hospital/Non-Physician Services Plan prior to November 4, 2014, they will not be penalized for not meeting the employer mandate for the 2015 plan year if that plan year begins no later than March 1, 2015. This is based on the employer’s reliance on the results of the Minimum Value Calculator (a Pre-November 4, 2014 Non-Hospital/Non-Physician Services Plan) as outlined in previous guidance.


For employers who have not entered in to a written commitment to adopt, have not begun enrolling employees in a Non-Hospital/Non-Physician Services Plan on or after November 4, 2014, or have a plan year that begins after March 1,2015, no relief will be given under the employer mandate.


Pending final regulations, employees will not be required to treat a Non-Hospital/Non-Physician Services Plan as providing minimum value coverage for purposes of determining their eligibility for a premium tax credit “aka premium subsidy” in the Marketplace.


An employer that offers a Non-Hospital/Non-Physician Services Plan (including a Pre-November 4, 2014 Non-Hospital/Non-Physician Services Plan) to an employee: 


(1) must not state or imply in any disclosure that the offer of coverage under the Non-Hospital/Non-Physician Services Plan prevents an employee from obtaining a premium tax credit, if otherwise eligible, and 


(2) must timely correct any prior disclosures that stated or implied that the offer of the Non-Hospital/Non-Physician Services Plan would prevent an otherwise tax-credit-eligible employee from obtaining a premium tax credit. 


Without such a corrective disclosure, a statement a Non-Hospital/Non-Physician Services Plan provides minimum value will be considered to imply that the offer of such a plan prevents employees from obtaining a premium tax credit/subsidy. However, an employer that also offers an employee another plan that is not a Non-Hospital/Non/-Physician Services Plan and that is affordable and provides minimum value is permitted to advise the employee that the offer of this other plan will or may preclude the employee from obtaining a premium tax credit. 

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