Some interesting points on grandfathered status’  from HRMorning, by Jared Bilski

Employers that have managed to keep their grandfathered status until now may think they’re immune from the hassles of the ACA, but a recent DOL investigation is a good reminder that the feds are always watching for a slipup.  

Sierra Pacific Industries Health Plan was one of the few remaining grandfathered plans in existence, and they managed to keep that status for years after the ACA took effect.

But, according to a DOL investigation, the plan made some changes beginning on Jan. 1, 2013, that prevented the plan from keeping its grandfathered status and led to a relinquishing of that status in the feds’ eyes.

Those plan changes, as well as how the plan made determinations on employee health claims, violated both the ACA (specifically the provisions on preventive health services and internal claims and appeals rules) and ERISA, the DOL claimed.

‘Operating as though it were exempt’

As the DOL’s Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employee Benefits Security Phyllis C. Borzi said:

“The Affordable Care Act put into place standards and protections for workers covered by employee benefit plans. The Sierra Pacific plan was operating as though it was exempt from such requirements, when indeed, it was not. This settlement means that workers improperly denied health benefits will have their claims paid. Corrections made to plan procedures will also mean that all future claims are processed and paid properly.”

No premium or deductible bumps

The end result of the feds’ investigation: A lot of administrative work and changes for Sierra Pacific.

As part of the settlement, plan fiduciaries agreed to comply with the ACA requirements for non-grandfathered plans moving forward, specifically the rules for internal claims and appeals and coverage of preventive health services.

Plus, for the 2017 plan year, the company will have to forgo any increases to participant premiums, annual out-of-pocket limits, annual deductible and coinsurance percentages in effect for the 2016 plan year.

On top of all that, the company agreed to:

  • Revise plan documents and internal procedures.
  • Re-adjudicate past claims for preventive services, out-of-network emergency services, claims affected by an annual limit and pay claims in compliance with the ACA and ERISA.
  • Submit to an independent review organization claims were eligible for external review.
  • Pay claims that had been left on hold for a long time.
  • Comply with timelines for deciding claims as provided in the department’s claim regulation.

See the original article Here.


Bilski, J. (2016 October 14). Beware: losing health plan grandfathered status is an administrative nightmare. [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address