CRANSTON – Questions on HIPAA or COBRA? The R.I. Department of Labor and Training is offering a free workshop on compliance and changes to the laws for employers.
The 90-minute workshop is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 12, at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. at the DLT offices, 1511 Pontiac Ave., Cranston.
U.S. Department of Labor representatives will review COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) and HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) notification procedures for employers, the changes to HIPAA brought about by the Affordable Care Act of 2010, including the phase-out of pre-existing condition exclusions, and annual and lifetime coverage limits.
Employers who do not notify current and former employees of their rights may be subject to fines by both the DOL and the IRS and may leave themselves vulnerable to worker-generated lawsuits, the DLT said.
Federal COBRA, which applies to companies with 20 or more employees, allows former employees and their dependents to continue their enrollment in group health coverage for a period of time after they have been laid off, fired or have resigned. Rhode Island has additional state COBRA law – limited to laid-off employees – for businesses with two to 19 workers.
The former employee pays the full cost of the coverage, but it may be more affordable than purchasing individual health insurance coverage, the DLT noted.
HIPAA protects employees from discrimination based on health factors. Employers may not exclude a new employee from group health insurance coverage due to a pre-existing condition if the last treatment for that condition occurred more than six month before the start of coverage, and sets guidelines for reducing or eliminating the exclusion period for a pre-existing condition, based on past health insurance coverage.