On Friday the Pension Welfare and Benefits Administration (PWBA) announced an extension for “six months, but not more than one year, the applicability date of the regulation for group health plans.”
Under the notice, the compliance date for group health plans will change from Jan. 1, 2002, to the first day of the first plan year beginning on or after July 1, 2002, but not later than Jan. 1, 2003.
The PWBA said the extra time would allow plans and service providers to implement the new rules in a cost-effective way, while at the same time enabling the department to provide further guidance concerning the application of the new rules.
“The extension also enables group health plans and the department to take into account changes that might be required following enactment of Patients’ Bill of Rights legislation addressing the same claims processes covered by the regulation, according to Ann Combs, assistant secretary of labor for pension and welfare benefits.
The notice, which appears in today’s Federal Register, does not change the compliance date for pension plans, disability plans and other types of welfare benefit plans.
The measure was aimed primarily at making managed care plans’ claims procedures more fair and friendly to enrollees, but health insurers, employers and plan administrators have expressed concerns over increased costs and administrative burdens resulting from the new rules.
PWBA published the final claims rule, which pertains to employee benefit plans governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, on Nov. 21, 2000.
– Nevin Adams firstname.lastname@example.org