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Employers given more time to comply with health benefits summary rule

Employers given more time to comply with health benefits summary rule

WASHINGTON—Employers will have more time to comply with a health care reform law requirement that they provide employees with an “easy-to-understand” summary of benefits and coverage, the Obama administration announced Thursday.

Under the final rule, the new statement—known as an SBC—would apply for plan years beginning on or after Sept. 23.

For example, an employer with a plan year that starts Jan. 1 and an open enrollment period that runs from Oct. 1 to Nov. 1 would have to provide the SBC by Oct. 1.

Previously, the administration said the information would have had to be distributed by March 23, which benefit experts said would not have given employers enough time to prepare and distribute the information.

The longer compliance period “will be very helpful to plan sponsors, although they still will need to devote significant time and resources to complying with the SBC by this date,” said Debbie Harrison, senior manager-public policy with the National Business Group on Health in Washington.

In addition, the amount of information employers would have to provide is reduced compared to the administration's previous proposal, which said employers would have to provide sample cost information for having a baby, managing Type 2 diabetes and treating breast cancer. Providing an example of the cost of treating breast cancer no longer is required.