Did you know that a notice to your employees telling them that they have a right to receive a HIPAA notice is probably due to be sent out before Thanksgiving?
The many HIPAA notice requirements include:
- A Notice of Privacy Practices sent to all newly eligible health plan participants.
- A new Notice of Privacy Practices to be sent every time there is a material change to the previous Notice.
- A Notice of Availability to all health participants. This Notice is sent once every three years.
If your plan is insured, notices are probably being handled by your insurance carrier. If your plan is self-funded, you as plan sponsor are responsible for making sure the notice is provided.
When Do You Need to Send Out Notices?
In order to be in compliance with final regulations released several years ago, most plans were required to modify their Notice of Privacy Practices and send an updated copy to all participants by November 23, 2013. This HIPAA requirement is to be sent to all employees, including pre-65 retirees and post-65 medical-eligible retirees if the plan sponsor covers them under their health plan.
The Notice of Availability reminds participants that they have a right to request a Notice of Privacy Practices free of charge. It provides participants with contact information so they can request a form. Since all plans were required to distribute a notice by November 23, 2013, the three year deadline for sending the Notice of Availability would be November 23, 2016.
Plan sponsors who have sent a revised Notice of Privacy Practices or a Notice of Availability since the deadline in 2013 don’t need to send another Notice of Availability by November 23, 2016. The deadline for those groups would be three years from the last notice.
The Notice of Availability can be included with other materials (as a payroll stuffer, for example). In some cases it can even be distributed electronically.
What You Need to Do
- Review your records to determine the last time your Notice of Privacy Practices was revised and sent to participants.
- Determine if a Notice of Availability is required and the date by which it must be sent.
- If a Notice of Availability is required, determine the best way to distribute it to plan participants.