HHS Updates Materials for Early Retiree Reinsurance Program

July 1, 2010 (PLANSPONSOR.com) – The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has begun receiving applications for the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program, created by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The agency announced it has posted an updated version of Frequently Asked Questions, Application Submission Do’s and Don’ts, and instructions for filling out the application. Applicants are strongly encouraged to review these materials before completing and submitting their Early Retiree Reinsurance Program applications as they provide guidance for how to respond to some of the questions in the application, according to the announcement.  

The agency has also posted a revised copy of the application that accommodates the entering of numeric sequences that start with zeros in fields requiring numbers (e.g., EIN, phone numbers, etc.) after being informed some applicants had problems with the early version of the application.  

The retiree reinsurance program is a temporary program that will reimburse eligible employers that sponsor retiree coverage 80% of claims between $15,000 and $90,000 (see Inside the Retiree Reinsurance Program).  It will reinsure only the claims for retirees between the ages of 55 and 64 years old (or their dependents) who are not Medicare-eligible.  Reimbursement only will be permitted to be used to reduce costs, premiums, or cost-sharing of plan participants or the plan sponsor (such as to offset premium increases).  

Federal officials appropriated $5 billion to pay for the reimbursements until January 2014 when subsidies called for in the health reform law kick in (see Feds Kick in $5B for Early Retiree Health Subsidy). However, indications are that the program take-up will be high (see Early Retiree Health Subsidy Program Take-up Could be High) and the funds will be depleted early (see EBRI Sees Retiree Health Coverage Subsidy Cash Depletion).