DOL Postpones Date Employers Must Begin Providing Summary of Benefits, Uniform Glossary and 60-Day Advance Notice

November 18, 2011

This is part of our series of alerts intended to help guide employers and plan sponsors through their new obligations under the recently-enacted health care reform laws and related guidance.

Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued guidance postponing the date on which employers must begin providing or making available the new Summary of Benefits and Coverage (“Summary”), the Uniform Glossary, and the 60-day advance notice of material modifications under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“PPACA”). For more on the proposed regulations issued by the DOL in August 2011 explaining the Summary and Uniform Glossary requirements, see our prior alert here. In general, these rules require that group health plans and insurers prior to the start of each plan year provide to eligible individuals, and make available upon request during the year, a brief Summary and a standardized Uniform Glossary describing the key terms of the insured or self-insured group health plan. They also require that plans and insurers provide at least 60 days’ advance notice of any mid-year material modification. The DOL says that it received numerous comments on its proposed regulations, and many complaints from employers and insurers on how cumbersome and time-consuming compliance with the rules will be.

The guidance issued by the DOL is in the form of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), which promise that the final regulations will take into account these comments and other feedback on the rules. The DOL will provide a new applicability date for the rules that it says will give group health plans and insurers “sufficient time to comply” with the requirements of the final regulations. A copy of the FAQ is available on the DOL website at the following link here.

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