Posted on Apr 30, 2012
The Department of Labor has been incredibly busy lately. Not only has the agency been deligent with respect to health reform regulations, it has also been working hard to improve DOL website tools and resources. The DOL has released an updated version of its Health Benefits Advisor for Employers. The Advisor is an interactive online tool that provides explanations of various federal health plan mandates. Since the tool's launch in 2006, it has continued to evolve. User's are guided through a series of windows with information on specific compliance requirements and it includes yes-or-no questions that are designed to help an employer determine whether a plan is in compliance.
The Advisor provides a "Plan Compliance Results" page that reports where an employer's plan is compliant and where it is not. While this Advisor tool is great for COBRA, HIPAA portability, GINA, and many other federal mandates, it falls short with respect to health reform. The DOL provides separate links to websites with information about health care reform requirements; the Advisor tool does not contain this information. We suggest that employers proceed cautiously when using the DOL's Health Benefits Advisor tool because it has not be updated to reflect how the federal mandates are impacted by the provisions of health care reform. Users should not rely on the results page of the interactive tool without first checking to see if health care reform affects the analysis. Our HBI benefit consultants are available if you have any questions regarding federal mandates, including health care reform.