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Required Notices for Small Business Health Insurance Open Enrollment 2022

Fall is a common time for small business health insurance open enrollment and with the season upon us, it’s time for HR to make sure they have prepared all the required notices. Businesses that offer group health plans to their employees are required to provide certain notices during open enrollment or at other times in the year. Many employers choose to include all health benefits related notices during open enrollment to simplify administrative tasks and save money.

Required Notices for Small Business Health Insurance Open Enrollment 2022

When HR sits down to plan notices, the first thing they should do is review all open enrollment materials to make sure that they have the correct terms and cost of coverage. Once that’s complete, the Summary of Material Modifications may be a good notice to start with. Here is a list of common notices required of employers:


Summary of Material Modifications (SMM)


Any plan changes from the prior year must be laid out in simple terms in a Summary of Material Modifications. A SMM notice must be given to all plan participants at least 60 days before the changes will take effect.

Summary Plan Description (SPD)


A Summary Plan Description (SPD) describes what the plan covers and how it works, how employees can use their benefits once enrolled, how to file a claim and how to appeal benefits that were denied. For existing health plans, an SPD must be provided to new plan participants within 90 days of their plan coverage starting, making open enrollment a convenient time. For new health plans, the SPD must be provided within 120 days. Note that an SPD must be provided every five years if material modifications have been made in that time or every 10 years if there have been no modifications and within 30 days of request. These rules apply to any organization subject to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) of 1974 (ERISA), which is almost every private-sector employer that offers welfare benefit plans.


Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC) and Uniform Glossary


The group health plan or the health insurance issuer must also create and provide a Summary of Benefits and Coverage and Uniform Glossary to all applicants and enrollees. The SBC is a standardized, four-page document with a short description of all benefits options written in simple terms so employees can easily compare their options. The Uniform Glossary provides definitions for commonly used health insurance terms like co-insurance.


Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Notice (WHCRA)


Group health plans that offer benefits for medical and surgical mastectomies must provide a Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Notice (WHCRA) each year, often included with open enrollment notices.


Children’s Health Insurance Protection Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA) Notice

The CHIPRA Notice must be provided at any time of the year by group health plans that cover residents in a state that offers a premium assistance subsidy under a Medicaid plan or CHIP. See https://www.benefits.gov/benefit/1255 for information about Hawaii QUEST and Medicaid Fee-For-Service.


Medicare Part D Notice of Creditable or Non-Creditable Coverage

All group health plans that include prescription drug coverage as part of their health insurance plan must provide a Medicare Part D Notice of Creditable or Non-Creditable Coverage before October 15 each year (when the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period begins). The purpose is to show whether the drug coverage offered by the group health plan is as good or better than the Medicare Part D coverage available to seniors 65 years and older. While this notice is technically only relevant to employees who qualify for Medicare, employers often send it to all employees.

COBRA General Notice


The COBRA General Notice is required of most employers with 20 or more employees who provide group health benefits. The notice must be provided within 90 days of the start of the health plan coverage, making open enrollment a convenient time.

Grandfathered Plan Notice


In order to maintain a group health plan’s grandfathered status, a Grandfathered Plan Notice must be provided. The notice should include a description of the plan’s benefits.


Notice of Patient Protections


If a non-grandfathered plan requires enrollees to designate a participating primary care provider, the plan or issuer is required to provide a Notice of Patient Protections whenever the SPD or any other formal description of health benefits is given to a plan participant. This notice is usually included with enrollment materials or with the SPD.


Special Enrollment Rights Notice - HIPPA

The Special Enrollment Rights Notice - HIPPA provides eligible employees with information on the health plan’s special enrollment rules including their right to enroll within 30 days if they lose other coverage or experience one of several Qualifying Life Events (QLEs). The notice – which must be provided at or before the time the employee is first able to enroll in a health plan - also explains that the law prohibits discrimination against employees and their dependents based on any health factors.


HIPAA Privacy Notice


A HIPAA Privacy Notice must be maintained and provided by all self-insurance group health plans. This notice should be provided to new enrollees at the time they enroll and at least once every three years.


Wellness Notice – HIPAA

The Wellness Notice – HIPAA must be provided to enrollees of groups health plans that require a health or wellness element to qualify for a reward or discounted health plan cost. The notice informs employees that there is an alternate way to qualify for the program’s reward and must be included in all plan materials that discuss the terms of the wellness program.

Wellness Notice – ADA


The Wellness Notice – ADA must be provided by group health plans that collect health information or use medical exams as part of their wellness program in order to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Employees must receive the notice before submitting to a health exam or giving any health information and with enough time to decide whether they want to opt out.

Availability of Health Insurance Marketplaces Notice


The Availability of Health Insurance Marketplaces Notice must be provided to employees of employers covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The notice gives employees information about the health insurance marketplace/exchanges of the state(s) in which they live.


*This post is meant to give a brief overview of required health benefits notices during open enrollment and is not intended to be a comprehensive list.


Partnering with Makai HR


Need help making sure you’re in compliance with all of Hawaii’s employer laws? We’ve got you covered through HR outsourcing! When you partner with Makai HR you can get on with the business you are trying to grow while we take care of your employee needs from payroll to taxes, health insurance/benefits and worker’s compensation. You will gain peace of mind that you are compliant with all of Hawaii’s employer laws (if you’ve ever looked you know that the list is very long and changes happen). When choosing a PEO to partner with, there are many things to consider including cost, services, and technology solutions.


With the cost of doing business in Hawaii at record highs, we know how important it is to keep labor costs in line with revenue. Our plans are priced competitively and include value-added services like time-in/time-out systems. Our three tiers of PEO service plans are tailored to the size of your business and specific needs. We offer a 100% paperless solution which means that your employees can manage their needs through a computer, tablet, or phone. We can truly improve your employees’ work benefits while freeing you up to run your business.


What are you waiting for? Companies that partner with a PEO benefit from 7-9% faster growth, 10-14% lower employee turnover; and they are 50% less likely to go out of business. Contact us today to get started!

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