Original post shrm.org

The federal agencies overseeing the Affordable Care Act announced a 30-day comment period ending on March 28, 2016, regarding proposed revisions to the Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC) and related documents that employers must provide to eligible employees for each of their health plans, following the Feb. 26 publication of an official notice in the Federal Register.

The revisions could be effective for employer-provided plan years beginning with the second quarter of 2017.

On Feb. 25, the Departments of Labor (DOL), Treasury, and Health and Human Services (HHS) released the proposed revised SBC template and revised uniform glossary, along with revised instructions for group plans. Under the Affordable Care Act, SBCs and the uniform glossary must be given to new hires and to employees during open enrollment.

The agencies had issued a final rule regarding SBCs and related documents in June 2015. However, revisions to the SBC template and the uniform glossary were delayed to allow the agencies to complete consumer testing and receive additional input from the public and stakeholders.

Providing Plan Details

In an analysis posted at the Health Affairs Blog, Timothy Jost, a professor at the Washington and Lee University School of Law in Lexington, VA., noted that among the proposed changes the revised documents would:

Better identify services covered before the deductible applies.

Disclose whether the plan has “embedded” deductibles and out-of-pocket limits (under which enrollees in family coverage can meet individual deductibles or out-of-pocket limits before the family limits are met).

Disclose more information on tiered networks in relation to coverage of common medical events.

Though it may not provide the clarity employers and employees are looking for, “on the whole, the proposed revised SBC is a distinct improvement over the current SBC,” commented Jost.