As with retirement plans, health and welfare employee benefit plans necessitate compliance with ERISA, the Internal Revenue Code, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and other statutory schemes, including the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act ("COBRA") and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act ("HIPAA"), among others.
Epstein Becker Green's Employee Benefits practice counsels domestic and international, multiemployer and single-employer clients on the tax and ERISA issues relating to all types of health and welfare plans, including cafeteria, dependent care, disability, flexible benefit, group-term life, medical and dental, medical reimbursement, retiree benefits, and severance plans. We also provide advice on the often complex administrative contracts associated with these plans and arrangements.
Specifically, our legal services in this area include:
- Advising clients with respect to the design, implementation, administration, and compliance of employee health and welfare benefit plans
- Drafting plan documents and plan communications
- Drafting "wrap" plan documents and counseling clients on the effect and use of wrap plans
- Assisting clients in meeting their obligations to provide accurate summary plan descriptions, summaries of benefits coverage, and summaries of material modifications to employee benefit plan participants regarding welfare plan terms and material changes to those terms
- Counseling on compliance with the health reform law and state laws regulating health benefits, all aspects of COBRA administration, and the application of HIPAA's requirements on welfare benefit plans, including the privacy rules and the preexisting condition exclusion, health-status discrimination, and special enrollment rules
- Reviewing and updating, as necessary, existing plans to ensure compliance with new employee benefits laws and regulations
- Helping clients prepare required notices under ERISA and/or the Internal Revenue Code, including COBRA notices to welfare plan participants and other welfare plan notices (such as HIPAA privacy notices, Medicare Part D notices, and Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act ("CHIPRA") special enrollment notices)
- Consulting on the termination of welfare benefit plans and on the reduction of welfare benefits
- Representing plan sponsors and fiduciaries with respect to government investigations and employee benefit litigation matters, including claims based on the denial of employee benefits by qualified and welfare benefit plans
Our Employee Benefits practice counsels clients on the compliance obligations of their welfare benefits programs, as well as how to minimize their legal risks.