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FAQs Re: Affordable Care Act Implementation Part VI

The Department of Labor created a frequently asked questions section regarding employee benefits security administration. The questions and answers have been prepared by the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Labor and the Treasury (the Departments). The purpose is to help people understand the Grandfathered Health Plans.

 

Questions posed:

Q1: What is the scope of the anti-abuse rule in paragraph (b)(2) of the interim final regulations relating to grandfather status? In particular, what is a "bona fide employment-based reason" for employees enrolled in a benefit package that is being eliminated to be transferred into another benefit package?

Q2: My plan bases the level of cost sharing for brand-name prescription drugs on the classification of the drugs under the plan as having or not having generic alternatives. The classification of a drug that had no generic alternative changes because a generic alternative becomes available and is added to the formulary, with a resulting increase in the cost-sharing level for the brand-name drug. Does that increase cause my plan to relinquish its grandfather status? Q3: A previous FAQ addressed the interaction of value-based insurance design (VBID) and the no cost-sharing preventive care services requirements. See http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/faqs/faq-aca5.html . In that example, a group health plan did not impose a copayment for colorectal cancer preventive services when performed in an in-network ambulatory surgery center. In contrast, the same preventive service provided at an in-network outpatient hospital setting generally required a $250 copayment, although the copayment was waived for individuals for whom it would be medically inappropriate to have the preventive service provided in the ambulatory setting. The FAQ indicated that this VBID did not cause the plan to fail to comply with the no cost-sharing preventive care requirements. A question about a different situation has been raised. Under a group health plan, similar preventive services are available both at an in-network ambulatory surgery center and at an in-network outpatient hospital setting, but currently no copayment is imposed for these services in either setting. This has been the case since March 23, 2010. If this plan wished to adopt the VBID approach described in the example above by imposing a $250 copayment for these preventive services only when performed in the in-network outpatient hospital setting (i.e., not when performed in an in-network ambulatory surgery center), and with the same waiver of the copayment for any individuals for whom it would be medically inappropriate to have these preventive services provided in the ambulatory setting, would implementation of that new design now cause the plan to relinquish grandfather status?

Q4: A plan operating on a calendar plan year is considering an amendment to plan terms that will exceed the thresholds described in paragraph (g)(1) of the interim final regulations and cause it to relinquish grandfather status. If the plan sponsor decides to adopt this amendment on July 1, 2011, and the change becomes effective for the plan year beginning on January 1, 2012, at what point in time does the plan relinquish grandfather status? Q5: A plan operating on a calendar plan year is considering an amendment to plan terms that will cause it to relinquish grandfather status, but wants the amendment to become effective before the first day of the next plan year. If the plan sponsor decides to make this amendment effective on July 1, 2011, does the plan relinquish grandfather status in the middle of the plan year? Q6: A plan covers both retirees and active employees and is subject to the market reform requirements of the Affordable Care Act. For retirees, the employer that sponsors the plan contributes $300 per year multiplied by the individual's years of service for the employer, capped at $10,000 per year. As the cost of coverage increases over time, how is it determined whether the employer's contribution rate has decreased for purposes of maintaining grandfather status?

For the answers to these questions, follow the link to the DOL article.