Compliance Updates

Revised COBRA Forms: Local associations and their benefit funds that provide health-related benefits such as dental, vision, catastrophe major medical and medical reimbursements to their members should be aware that the Department of Labor (DOL) updated its model COBRA general and election notices in May 2020. These updates assist qualified beneficiaries with better understanding the interactions between Medicare and COBRA.

Local associations and their benefit funds should seek legal counsel to ensure they are in compliance with COBRA. Learn more about how to get assistance in retaining legal guidance.

In March 2014, the Department of Health & Human Services made available an online interactive HIPAA Security Risk Assessment (SRA) Tool to aid in performing and documenting a risk analysis. The HIPAA Security regulations require covered entities and business associates to conduct a risk assessment in order to determine the potential risks and vulnerabilities to electronic protected health information.

Although the SRA Tool was designed specifically for health care practices, it can also be useful for group health plans such as benefit funds offering health-related benefits. Ideally, legal counsel should validate a benefit fund's risk assessment, but the SRA Tool can be considered a good resource and template.

In December 2018, HHS also made available its Health Industry Cybersecurity Practices: Managing Threats and Protecting Patients manual. This publication, which can be used in conjunction with the SRA Tool, provides a summary of current cybersecurity threats in the health care industry as well as National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST) recommendations that entities may use to best protect themselves from these dangers; this manual provides helpful guidance for entities of all sizes.

With the complexity of the HIPAA regulations, it is critical that local associations and their benefit funds seek legal counsel to ensure they are in compliance. Learn more about how to get assistance in retaining legal guidance.

New York State law requires that insured medical plans offer young adults the ability to maintain coverage under their parents’ group health plan through age 29. Another New York State law adds another 18 months of continuation coverage on top of the traditional 18 months of COBRA or New York State continuation coverage. These laws do not apply to dental-only, vision-only and pharmacy-only plans nor do they apply to self-funded health plans. View more information about this topic.

Locals and their benefit funds may want to check with their employers to find out how these laws affect any fully-insured health benefits offered by the employer. Benefit funds should also check with their legal counsel to determine whether these laws affect any health-related programs that they offer. Learn more about how to get assistance in retaining legal guidance.