Federal agencies have released a batch of advice that could lead to noticeable changes in some employer-sponsored health plans, such as richer aromatherapy benefits.
The Internal Revenue Service has joined with the Employee Benefits Security Administration and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to write “Nondiscrimination and Wellness Programs in Health Coverage in the Group Market,” a set of final rules aimed at the group health market.
The final rules are modified versions of interim final regulations published in January 2001. They take effect Feb. 12, 2007, for plan years beginning on or after July 1, 2007.
One section, on “source-of-injury exclusions,” will permit health plans and insurers to exclude benefits for the treatment of a variety of activities listed in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, such as motorcycling, snowmobiling, horseback riding and skiing.
Before 1996, health insurers could exclude coverage for injuries resulting from specified activities, but many commenters wrote to oppose the source-of-injury rule in the 2001 interim rules, officials write in a preamble to the final rules, which appear today in the Federal Register.
Officials decided not change the source-of-injury provision in the interim rules because “there is no reason to believe that plans and issuers will begin to impose source-of-injury exclusions with respect to the conference report activities merely because such exclusions are not prohibited under the 2001 interim rules and these final regulations,” officials write.