Enacted under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), SBC regulations went into effect in September 2012. They require a separate summary for each health plan option offered by an employer. The survey, conducted by benefits plan management firm HighRoads, found about half of employers reported they had to produce more than 10 separate SBCs. More than 25% were required to produce between 25 and 100 separate SBCs, and 6% had to produce more than 100 versions.
To control costs and ease the administrative burden, employers are increasingly turning to electronic distribution for SBCs. About 41% said they were also distributing paper copies, while only 14% relied exclusively on printing and distribution of paper copies.
“We see both employers and payers turning to technology to gain control over the complex task of generating SBCs,” said Kim Buckey, principal, Compliance Communications Practice at HighRoads. “Electronic distribution channels not only reduce costs (paper, printing and postage) and a company’s carbon footprint, they can get documents into consumers’ hands quickly and provide immediate access from any location.”
Most employers responding to the survey found last year’s SBC exercise a frustrating one. Many felt that the pre-populated SBC content was confusing to plan participants (45%), struggled to keep content to the prescribed eight pages (37%) and/or had trouble coordinating SBCs with the other enrollment material they were producing.
The requirement to produce SBCs applies across insurance markets, from the large group market of employers to the individual markets of the health insurance marketplaces. They are intended to provide basic information about available health care plan options in a standardized format, to begin to prepare participants to comparison shop among plan options once the new state and federal marketplaces are established and becomes widespread.
The survey results can be found here.