More Health Care Reform Guidance
February 23, 2011
In December, Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Labor and the Treasury released additional Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding implementation of the market reform provisions of the Affordable Care Act, as well as FAQs regarding implementation of the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA). There were several questions in the release that discussed the effective dates of the automatic enrollment requirement and the 60 day notice requirement. I have reproduced them below.
If you wish to view all of the Frequently Asked Questions released on December 22, 2010, please click on the link below:
Automatic Enrollment Health Plans
Q-1: The Affordable Care Act amended the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by adding a new section 18A, requiring employers with more than 200 full-time employees to automatically enroll new full-time employees in the employer’s health benefits plans and continue enrollment of current employees. What Agency is responsible for guidance under this new FLSA provision?
The Secretary of Labor has delegated responsibility for FLSA section 18A rulemaking, and for regulations under new section 18B of the FLSA, Notice to Employees of Coverage Options, to the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) within the Department of Labor. EBSA and the Department of the Treasury will coordinate to develop the rules that will apply in determining full-time employee status for purposes of the amendments to the FLSA and the rulemaking by the Treasury Department under the Internal Revenue Code to develop the rules that will apply in determining full-time employee status for purposes of the amendments made by the Affordable Care Act to the Internal Revenue Code
Q-2: When do employers have to comply with the new automatic enrollment requirements in section 18A of the FLSA?
Section 18A provides that employer compliance with the automatic enrollment provisions of that section shall be carried out “[i]n accordance with regulations promulgated by the Secretary [of Labor].” Accordingly, it is the view of the Department of Labor that, until such regulations are issued, employers are not required to comply with section 18A. The Department of Labor expects to work with stakeholders to ensure that it has the necessary information and data it needs to develop regulations in this area that take into account the practices employers currently use for auto-enrollment and to solicit the views and practices of a broad range of stakeholders, including employers, workers, and their families. The Department of Labor intends to complete this rulemaking by 2014.
Disclosure Under PHS Act Section 2715(d)(4)
Q-3: When are group health plans and health insurance issuers required to comply with the notice requirement in PHS Act section 2715 (d)(4), which generally requires a 60-day prior notice for material modifications to the plan or coverage?
PHS Act section 2715 as added by the Affordable Care Act generally provides, among other things, that not later than 12 months after the date of enactment of the Affordable Care Act, the Departments must develop standards for use by group health plans and health insurance issuers in compiling and providing a summary of benefits and coverage explanation that accurately describes the benefits and coverage under the applicable plan or coverage and, not later than 24 months after the date of enactment, plans and issuers must begin to provide the summary pursuant to the standards. PHS Act section 2715(d)(4) generally provides that if a group health plan or health insurance issuer makes any material modification in any of the terms of the plan or coverage involved (as defined for purposes of section 102 of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)) that is not reflected in the most recently provided summary of benefits and coverage, the plan or issuer must provide notice of such modification to enrollees not later than 60 days prior to the date on which such modification will become effective.
Accordingly, it is the view of the Departments that group health plans and health insurance issuers are not required to comply with the 60-day prior notice requirement for material modifications in PHS Act section 2715 (d)(4) until plans and issuers are required to provide the summary of benefits and coverage explanation pursuant to the standards issued by the Departments.
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