Interim Health Insurance Portability Rules Issued

Article excerpt

The U.S. departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and Treasury, charged with crafting and implementing regulations for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) issued interim final rules on April 1 and were published in the Federal Register on April 8. They can also be accessed through the Internet at www.access.gpo.gov. There is a 90-day public comment period.

The new law is designed to: limit exclusions for pre-existing medical conditions; prohibit discrimination against employees and dependents based on health status; guarantee the availability of health insurance to small employers; and guarantee renewability of insurance to all employers regardless of size.

The impact of the proposed regulations on municipal plans and municipal league RISC pools overall, will vary. Municipal self-insured plans may choose to opt-out of a number of the laws, provisions. In addition to compliance with the new federal law, public employers must pay close attention to what is happening at the State level.

The new law requires that regulations be phased in between June 1, 1997 and June 30, 1998, depending on when the issuers' new plan year begins and insurance-related changes that States might make.

Federal agency responsibility is as follows:

* HHS, Labor, and Treasury: "Mega-rule" governing access, portability, renewability for group plans and issuers of health coverage offered in connection with group plans;

* HHS: interim final rule governing portability from group to individual market, federal rules governing access to individual markets, and state alternative mechanism to federal rules;

* Labor: interim final rule governing content of group health plan summary description, furnish summaries of material reduction in covered services or benefits, and the disclosure summary plan description and other information through electronic media; and

* IRS: proposed rule for bringing IRS' segment of "Mega-rule" into procedural compliance with relevant tax laws. …