Dont Forget To Distribute Your Plan’s Notice Of Privacy Practice
The final HIPAA regulations that were issued by HHS in January 2013, required changes to the HIPAA Notice of Privacy Practices for all group health plans, including major medical plans, dental plans, vision plans and flexible spending account plans. The regulations required that the Notice of Privacy Practice be updated for various changes in the law, including a participant’s right to be notified of a breach, the right to receive their records electronically, and the prohibition on using genetic information for underwriting purposes. This requirement is only one of the action steps required by the final regulations, but is the only one that requires an action that involves notifying your plan participants.
For fully-insured plans, the insurer should be preparing this notice for you and will likely include it in the Certificate of Coverage. You should check with your insurance carrier to ensure that they are distributing it and not just preparing it and leaving the responsibility of distributing it to you. For self-insured plans, the plan sponsor (i.e., the employer in a single employer plan) is the party responsible for preparing and distributing the Notice of Privacy Practices. The final regulations were effective on September 23, 2013 and the updated Notice of Privacy Practice should be effective as of a date that is no later than September 23rd. Whenever there is a material change to the Notice of Privacy Practices (and the regulations make clear that these changes are material), the updated Notice must be distributed to plan participants within 60 days of the new effective date making the distribution deadline November 22, 2013. The regulations provide transition relief on the timing of redistributing the notice by giving plan sponsors additional time after November 22nd until the next mailing/distribution of plan materials as long as no plan materials were distributed between September 23 and November 22.
If you need assistance revising your Plan’s Notice of Privacy Practices, please contact me or one of the other authors of Benefits InSight and we would be happy to help.