The Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Labor and the Treasury (the Departments) just released a Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) regarding implementation of the market reform provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). This FAQ answers a question about the timeline of Summary of Benefits and Coverage requirement under PPACA.
Like previously-issued FAQs, this FAQs answer questions from stakeholders to help people understand the new law and benefit from it, as intended. The Departments anticipate issuing further responses to questions and issuing other guidance in the future. The question and their answer is reproduced below and can also be found on the DOL website.
Question: On August 22, 2011, the Departments issued proposed regulations and proposed templates in connection with implementation of the Summary of Benefits and Coverage and Uniform Glossary requirements of PHS Act § 2715. An applicability date “beginning March 23, 2012” was proposed. At the same time, the Departments invited comments generally, as well as on a range of discrete issues, including the timing of the application of the SBC requirement.
My plan anticipates that preparation of the summary of benefits and coverage will take several months and require significant resources. In light of the March 23, 2012 proposed applicability date, we are considering moving forward with implementation of the Summary of Benefits and Coverage requirements, using the proposed rules and templates, but are concerned that the final rules and templates will differ from the proposed rules and templates, which would prompt additional implementation costs. What is the timeline for the issuance of future guidance on the summary of benefits and coverage? What actions should my plan be taking now, if any?
Answer: The Departments received many comments on the proposed regulations and templates and intend to issue, as soon as possible, final regulations that take into account these comments and other stakeholder feedback.
PHS Act section 2715 provides that group health plans and health insurance issuers shall provide the Summary of Benefits and Coverage and Uniform Glossary pursuant to standards developed by the Departments. Accordingly, until final regulations are issued and applicable, plans and issuers are not required to comply with PHS Act section 2715.
It is anticipated that the Departments’ final regulations, once issued, will include an applicability date that gives group health plans and health insurance issuers sufficient time to comply.