CMS Disclosure Requirement for Employer Health Plans
Do you offer health coverage to your employees? Does your group health plan cover outpatient prescription drugs?
If so, federal law requires you to complete an online disclosure form every year with information about your plan’s drug coverage. You have 60 days from the start of your health plan year to complete the form. For instance, for a calendar-year health plan, this year’s deadline is March 1, 2021.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is a federal agency that collects data and administers various federal programs. The agency utilizes the CMS online tool to collect information from employers about whether their group health plan’s prescription drug coverage is creditable or noncreditable. Creditable coverage means the group health plan’s prescription drug coverage is actuarially equivalent to Medicare’s Part D drug plans. In other words, the group plan is considered creditable if its drug benefits are as good as or better than Medicare’s benefits.
To confirm whether your plan provides creditable or noncreditable coverage, check with the plan’s carrier or HMO (if insured) or the plan’s actuary (if self-funded). CMS provides guidance to help plan sponsors, carriers, and actuaries determine the plan’s status.
Deadline for Disclosure
All group health plans that include any outpatient prescription drug benefits, regardless of whether the plan is insured, self-funded, grandfathered, or nongrandfathered, must complete the CMS disclosure requirement. There is no exception for small employers.
Complete the CMS online disclosure form every year within 60 days of the start of the plan year. For instance, for calendar-year plans, this year’s deadline is March 1, 2021.
Additionally, if your plan terminates or changes its status between creditable and noncreditable coverage, you must disclose the updated information to CMS within 30 days of the change.
Completing the Disclosure Form
The CMS online tool is the only method allowed for completing the required disclosure. From this link, follow the prompts to respond to a series of questions regarding the plan. The link is the same regardless of whether the employer’s plan provides creditable or noncreditable coverage.
The entire process usually takes only five or ten minutes to complete. To save time, have the following information handy before you start filling in the form:
- Information about the plan sponsor (employer): Name, address, phone number, and federal Employer Identification Number (EIN).
- Number of prescription drug options offered (e.g., if employer offers two plan options with different benefit levels, the number is “2”).
- Creditable/Noncreditable Offer: Indicate whether all options are creditable or noncreditable or whether some are creditable and others are noncreditable.
- Plan year beginning and ending dates.
- Estimated number of plan participants eligible for Medicare (and how many are participants in the employer’s retiree health plan, if any).
- Date that the plan’s Notice of Creditable (or Noncreditable) Coverage was provided to participants.
- Name, title, and email address of the employer’s authorized individual completing the disclosure.
We suggest you print a copy of the completed disclosure to keep for your records.
Note: Employers that receive the Retiree Drug Subsidy (RDS), or sponsor health plans that contract directly with one or more Medicare Part D plans, should seek the advice of legal counsel regarding the applicable disclosure requirements.
Additional Disclosure Requirement
Separate from the CMS online disclosure requirement, employers also must distribute a disclosure notice to Medicare-eligible group health plan participants. The deadline for distributing the participant notice is October 14 of the preceding year. It often is difficult for employers to identify which employees and spouses may be Medicare-eligible, so most employers simply distribute the notice to all participants regardless of age or status. For information about the notice requirement, see our previous post.
By Kathy Berger