Q. When we make changes to our medical plan, how long do we have to get the new summary plan out to employees? — D.M., Iowa
A. The answer depends on the type of change being made to your medical plan. The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) governs health benefit plans sponsored by private-sector employers. Under ERISA, workers and their families are entitled to receive a summary plan description (SPD).
ERISA requires that SPDs be updated periodically. It also requires disclosure of any material reduction in covered services or benefits to participants and beneficiaries generally within 60 days of the adoption of the change through either a revised SPD or a summary of material modification (SMM). Material changes that do not result in a reduction in covered services or benefits must be disclosed through an SMM or revised SPD not later than 210 days after the end of the plan year in which the change was adopted.