The Employee Retirement Income Security Act provides structure and oversight for private retirement plans and health plans. The federal government enacted this law in 1974. As with anything, things changed with retirement plans and within the employment field that led to amendments to this act. Some of them address specific situations while others help to make ERISA protections better for everyone.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act was one amendment, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, that helped to provide you with protection against discrimination in health coverage. HIPPA makes it so that your health insurer cannot use your health status to deny you coverage.
The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act is another important amendment because it provides you with the ability to keep your health insurance coverage after leaving a job or in other limited situations. COBRA can help you to avoid having to buy private health insurance, which can be more expensive than the group health insurance you receive through your employer.
Amendments have also helped to add protection for special circumstances. For example, the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act helped to ensure fair coverage for mental health and addiction services under group health plans. The Newborns’ and Mothers’ Health Protection Act ensured plans offer adequate coverage for hospital stays after the birth of a child for both the mother and baby.
It is important to note that ERISA and any amendments to it are applicable to only private industry health and retirement plans. There are some other exceptions as well, so it is a good idea to ensure that your employer does fall under ERISA jurisdiction before applying these laws to your situation.