Health care reform
December 1, 2011
Employers and insurers have a respite from the 2012 benefits communication mandates of health care reform. In November 2011 the government announced a delay in the implementation until final rules are published.
The mandate requires, among other things, that employers provide employees with an “easy-to-understand” summary of benefits and coverage, and a glossary of commonly used health care coverage terms, such as deductible and copay, if requested. The summary of benefits and coverage would have to include the portion of expenses a health care plan would cover in each of three situations:
Additional examples may be added in the future, according to the existing rules. The government has not yet specified when it expects to publish the final regulations. To see a summary of the existing requirements, refer to page 12 of the Unum report “Health care reform: Reshaping the U.S. health care insurance industry”.
The requirement was originally scheduled to take effect on March 23, 2012.
Impact on employers — Employers who create their own benefits documents will not have to meet the federal guidelines for 2012 benefits enrollments. For employers who rely on enrollment firms or health insurers to provide benefits communications, the delay has little or no impact.
Impact to employees/individuals — The employee communication regulations are intended to make insurance coverage easier for consumers to understand. When individuals were polled about what they like best about health care reform, this mandate was the top pick by a wide margin.1