In recent years, the amount of regulation to which employee welfare benefit plans have become subject has exploded.

We have witnessed the enactment of the preexisting condition, nondiscrimination, and the privacy rules under HIPAA, to name just a few. Additionally, employers and their plans have become subject to the Newborns' and Mothers' Health Protection Act, the Mental Health Parity Act, and the Women's Health and Cancer Rights Act. Other laws that have applied to employer welfare plans for some time, such as the continuation coverage rules of COBRA and the rules applying to cafeteria and flex plans, have undergone dramatic changes in just the last year or two. As if this were not enough, employers must now deal with dramatic changes to the ERISA claims procedure regulations that require very significant changes to the administration and form of medical and disability plans.

With all of the changing and increasing rules that apply to welfare benefit plans comes the potential for significant liability to employers whose plans fail to meet the new requirements. This is especially significant because welfare benefit plans historically have been the plans to which employers devoted the least attention relative to federal regulation.

We have the expertise to provide proactive counseling in all of these areas so that our clients can avoid liability and remain industry leaders. We also provide advice regarding funded welfare benefit trusts—sometimes called voluntary employee beneficiary associations (VEBAs)—split-dollar life insurance products, and the tax aspects of providing welfare benefits to domestic partners.

Orrick lawyers help employers avoid liability from increasing and changing rules governing:

  • Medical Plans
  • COBRA
  • HIPAA
  • VEBAs
  • Flexible Spending Accounts
  • MEWAs