News & Publications

Sharon Lippett Quoted in “Disclosure, Transparency Regs Headline DOL Benefits Agenda”

Law360

Sharon L. Lippett, Member of the Firm in the Employee Benefits practice, in the firm’s New York office, was quoted in Law360, in “Disclosure, Transparency Regs Headline DOL Benefits Agenda,” by Emily Brill. (Read the full version – subscription required.)

Following is an excerpt:

The U.S. Department of Labor’s benefits division has added several items to its most recent to-do list, telling stakeholders Wednesday that it hopes to push out rules giving employers more leeway to deliver benefits information online and requiring health insurers to tell workers how much they’ll owe for treatment before they receive it.

The first rule could save employers millions by making online disclosures the default method of sharing retirement plan information. The second could benefit workers by requiring employee health plans to publicize treatment costs.

The DOL’s Employee Benefits Security Administration deemed the rules a priority Wednesday by placing them on its fall regulatory agenda, which maps out seven of the agency’s goals for the next year. …

The electronic disclosure rule has long been on employers’ wish list, and management-side benefits attorneys trumpeted its arrival.

Sharon Lippett, a member of Epstein Becker Green’s employee benefits and executive compensation practice, called the rule “long overdue and much needed” on Wednesday.

“The existing rules do not reflect the realities of participant disclosure confronting large plan sponsors,” Lippett said. ...

Lippett said Wednesday that she thinks, in practice, the rule likely wouldn’t leave certain retirees — like those without email addresses — in the dust.

“I understand that risk, but if [employers] can’t get a personal email address from a participant, they’re going to send them paper, they’re not just going to ignore them,” Lippett said. “They can only use this for people who consent, people who have a personal email.”