Decades ago, The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 passed. Also known as ERISA, it set up some very important benefit options for people who had retirement and health plans. Companies can do more than ERISA demands, if they so choose, but the minimum standards are set by the act.
Over the years, ERISA has been amended a few times to reflect the needs that modern workers have. Some of the amendments include:
- The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA)
- The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
- The Newborns’ and Mothers’ Health Protection Act
- The Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act
- The Mental Health Parity Act
- The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act
- The Affordable Care Act
These acts all have different targets and goals. For instance, COBRA may allow workers who have lost their jobs to keep health coverage. This only lasts for a set amount of time, but it means that coverage is not always immediately removed upon the loss of a job. HIPAA is more about privacy and preventing discrimination. When some families get health coverage, they worry that they may see this type of discrimination or unequal treatment, and HIPAA works to ensure that they do not.
If you are trying to use ERISA in its current form, with these amendments in place, you may already be able to see just how helpful it could be in your life. That said, the whole process may also feel a bit complex and overwhelming. You may want to have someone with considerable experience on your side to help show you what steps to take or how to appeal if you get denied when you apply.