An Early Present: Proposed SBC Regulations
As far as Christmas presents go, the proposed regulations released yesterday by the DOL, HHS, and Treasury are roughly equivalent to a toothbrush or a pair of socks…useful, but not terribly exciting. However, for plan administrators, clarity is always a welcome gift, especially as it relates to disclosure obligations.
Plan administrators and health insurance issuers have been required to provide a Summary of Benefits and Coverage (“SBC”) to plan sponsors, active participants and beneficiaries, and employees eligible to receive group health coverage for a couple years now. This latest round of proposed regulations is intended to clarify when and how the SBC should be provided, and also propose to modify some of the SBC content requirements. To that end, the Departments developed and released a new streamlined model SBC template, instructions, and Uniform Glossary. The new SBC template and Uniform Glossary conform to the content requirements in the proposed regulations, and also eliminate elements from the prior SBC template that have become obsolete, like annual limit provisions.
Fortunately, the proposed regulations are effective for plan years beginning on or after September 1, 2015, so the Departments have given you plenty of time to familiarize yourself with the SBC forms and any new obligations you may have to your plan’s participants and beneficiaries. The Departments are also seeking comment on several aspects of the proposed regulations, so stay tuned, and we will keep you apprised of any changes or additional guidance.