For employers and other sponsors of group health plans, March 1 brings two annual deadlines.

MEDICARE PART D: Creditable Coverage Notice to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)

If an employer group health plan provides prescription drug coverage to anyone who is enrolled in Medicare, the employer must notify CMS as to whether the coverage is "creditable" or "non-creditable." The notification is due within 60 days after the end of the plan year—by March 1 for calendar-year plans.

The rule applies if any person covered by the plan is enrolled in Medicare Part A or Medicare Part B, and lives within the service area of a Medicare Part D plan.

It does not matter whether the person is enrolled in Medicare on the basis of age or disability.

Most individuals are automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A (which is free) on or near their 65th birthday.

Most employer group health plans cover at least one person who is age 65 or at least one person who is disabled and therefore will need to notify CMS.

Notification to CMS is given electronically. Click here to be taken to the starting point.

HIPAA: Breach Notice to the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS)

Virtually all employer group health plans are subject to HIPAA's rules requiring that various people be notified when there is a breach of unsecured protected health information (PHI). Although employers are understandably most concerned with the immediate need to notify the affected individuals, employers should not lose sight of the need to notify HHS on an annual basis. Specifically, for breaches of unsecured PHI involving less than 500 individuals, employers are required to notify HHS no later than 60 days after the end of the calendar year—by March 1.

Notification to HHS is given electronically. Click here to be taken to the starting point.

A Note Concerning Timing

Because March 1 falls on a Sunday, CMS and HHS may take the position that notifications are timely if they are given by the next business day (March 2). However, the agencies have made no formal announcement to that effect. As such, we recommend filing by this Friday, February 27th.

If you have any questions concerning either of the above notices, please contact any member of Venable'sEmployee Benefits and Executive Compensation Group.