All group health plans that offer prescription drug coverage to Medicare-eligible employees (under either an active plan or retiree plan) must provide an annual creditable coverage disclosure notice to Medicare-eligible participants and dependents no later than October 15, 2011. Group health plans must also provide notices to each new participant who may be Medicare-eligible.

The annual creditable coverage disclosure notice was previously required to be provided no later than November 15 of each year. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) moved the Medicare Part D annual enrollment period to October 15 through December 7, beginning in 2011. Under the general rules prescribed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the annual notice is required to be provided prior to the beginning of the Medicare Part D annual election period. As a result, the creditable coverage disclosure notice for 2011 must be provided by October 15, 2011, one month earlier than in the past.

CMS provides a model notice that can be accessed through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services website. Plan sponsors should review the model notice to ensure that it accurately reflects the nature of the coverage and the rights that individuals have if they lose coverage.