I’m an employer that offers a fully insured group health plan for my employees. Is the fully insured group health plan subject to all of the Privacy Rule provisions?
The Privacy Rule recognizes that certain fully insured group health plans may not need to satisfy all of the requirements of the Privacy Rule since these responsibilities will be carried out by the health insurance issuer or HMO with which the group health plan has contracted for coverage of its members. In particular, a fully insured group health plan that does not create or receive protected health information other than summary health information (see definition at 45 CFR 164.504(a) (GPO)) and enrollment or disenrollment information is not required to have or provide a notice of privacy practices. See 45 CFR 164.520(a)(2) (GPO).
Moreover, these group health plans are exempt from most of the administrative responsibilities under the Privacy Rule. See 45 CFR 164.530(k). These health plans are still required, however, to refrain from intimidating or retaliatory acts (45 CFR 164.530(g) (GPO)), and from requiring an individual to waive their privacy rights (45 CFR 164.530(h) (GPO)). The documentation requirements at 45 CFR 164.530(j) apply to these group health plans only to the extent of amendments, if any, made to the plan documents for the sharing of information with the plan sponsor under 45 CFR 164.504(f) (GPO). Additional information about the Privacy Rule, including guidance and technical assistance materials is available through the Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights Web site.