By: Jen McCormick, Esq.
Although the regulations may change, it’s important to begin thinking about plan changes for the upcoming plan year. The specifics for compliance requirements may still be unclear, employers should already be in process of contemplating cost containment updates.
There are many ways to add value to an employee health benefit plan. An employer should perform an annual review of their plan to confirm that the plan takes advantage of as many cost containment opportunities as possible. For example, does the plan have strong third party recovery language? Overpayments language? Clearly defined terms? Appropriate definitions? Vendor program with corresponding language? If not, the plan should be cognizant of what’s missing or not working, so updates can be made.
In addition to cost containment, and while some rules are in flux, there are many regulatory requirements a plan must be aware of and having corresponding language. For example, is the employer subject to ACA Section 1557? Employer Mandate? Does the plan comply with the MHPAEA? Did the plan pick a benchmark for defining essential health benefits? With all the regulatory changes, plans should stay alert and ready to make renewal modifications.
Last, but definitely not least, employers should ask their employees to weigh in on the plan. Remember it’s an employee benefit to offer coverage – so employers should be offering beneficial coverage. For example, is there a specific service that many employees wish was covered? Could that be added to the plan? Is there a trend in services for employees for which you may want to offer an incentive? Being self funded allows you to be creative – take advantage!
Plans have freedom to design benefits to suit their needs. With this privilege comes the need to plan ahead and be creative. Employers should be proactive and ensure this opportunity to annually update the plan design is taken seriously!