The U.S. Department of Labor issued FAQs Part XI that address a number of outstanding issues under the Affordable Care Act. According to the FAQs, the requirement to provide employees with notices regarding the availability of exchanges will not take effect on March 1, 2013, as originally scheduled, but rather will be effective in late summer or fall of 2013 in order to coordinate with the open enrollment period for the new healthcare exchanges. The FAQs also clarify that health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) must only be available to employees who are covered by the employer’s group health plan; otherwise such HRAs (other than HRAs for retirees) would fail the prohibition on lifetime and annual limits on essential health benefits. Generally, fixed indemnity health insurance is considered an excepted benefit that is not subject to the Affordable Care Act. The FAQs clarify that fixed indemnity insurance can only provide benefits on a per-period basis and not on a per-service or per-item basis. This change may affect many fixed indemnity insurance policies. Finally, the FAQs provide some limited circumstances in which Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) fees may be paid from plan assets, such as in the case of multiemployer plans.

The new FAQs can be found here.