Many businesses know that when it comes to their retirement plans, such as 401(k)s, that they must comply with the Employee Retirement Income Security Act and its plan documentation and disclosure requirements, but few understand that the same goes for their health and welfare benefit plans.
ERISA was designed to protect employees enrolled in the employer-sponsored health benefits and mandates that health plans must be in writing. The Summary Plan Description and Plan Documents fill in the gaps of other documentation to help comply with federal regulations.
The BASE® ERISA Wrap is designed to wrap around existing certificates of insurance and benefit plan booklets to provide the required provisions and information and protect the plan and the employer from steep penalties and fines.
With only a few exceptions, if an employer provides a health and welfare benefit plan to their employees they are required to comply with ERISA, regardless of size, number of employees, or if the benefits are paid by the employer (HRA) or its employees (125 Cafeteria Plans).
A Plan Document is a written document that contains all the terms of the plan. It specifies things such as the participant’s rights, the benefits provided, the obligations within the plan, and the plan’s terms and conditions for administration.
A Summary Plan Description is a written document that details the health benefit plan benefits and features that are easy to read and understand.
To wrap this up…it is important to note that an SPD is not the same as the Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC). The SBC is required for many health insurance coverage plans but is missing some of the information ERISA requires to be in compliance.
For more information on the BASE® ERISA Wrap, contact BASE® at 888.386.9680 or visit www.BASEonline.com.