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Agencies Release Final Rules on SBC

Final versions of benefits-related rules have been flying out of federal agencies in the early weeks of 2012, with more expected to come over the next few months.

One of the hottest compliance topics to emerge from health care reform — the new summary of benefits and coverage (SBC) requirements — received some much-desired guidance and a new deadline, according to a report by SmartHR Manager.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department of Labor (DOL),  the Treasury Department and the IRS posted a final rule that clarifies that the SBC information can be incorporated into the summary plan description (SPD) as long as that information is correct and prominently displayed at the beginning of the SPD.

The final rule also pushed back the effective date. Originally, plans that started on or after March 23, 2012, were to be subject to these rules. That date has been moved to Sept. 23 of this year.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) requires employers to provide workers with an easy-to-understand summary of benefits and coverage, a glossary of commonly used health care terms and general explanations of how the plan would handle certain medical conditions.

Other recent benefits-related decisions include:

Final GINA Rules
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued a final rule that defines record-retention requirements under the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA).  This rule establishes the same requirements that apply under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to a report by Workforce magazine.

The EEOC noted that the rule does not call for the creation of new documents or demand any additional reporting requirements. Employers must maintain all relevant records until any GINA charge is resolved, the EEOC added.

Final 401(k) Fee Disclosure Rules
The DOL finalized rules regarding fee disclosures for 401(k) plans, according to a PLANSPONSOR report. The final rules call for service providers to give plan fiduciaries information about any direct or indirect compensation or fees received by the service provider to maintain and manage the plans.

The rules also require providers to communicate any possible conflicts of interest. The DOL announced that any entities not in compliance by July 1 would be subject to penalties under the Internal Revenue Code.