Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC) Provision

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One of the new requirements under the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act (known as PPACA or Health Care Reform) is that group health plan participants must receive a Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC). The SBC contains a summary of the key benefits and cost-sharing provided through the health plan, a link to the glossary of terms, and a discussion of some other policy conditions or limitations. Per regulation, issuers are required to provide an SBC for actively sold products on or after September 23, 2012.

Actively-marketed products are those that are part of CareFirst’s marketed portfolio of standard products currently being sold, i.e., not currently subject to the benefit streamlining project.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has instructed that SBCs for products that are not actively marketed must be available on for before September 23, 2014.


The idea behind the SBC is to offer improved, uniform information to consumers in clear language so they can easily understand the health coverage they have, as well as enable them to compare their current coverage to other types of plans and insurance products.


The SBC regulation provides member access to two key documents:

  1. The SBC, which provides members with a standardized format which describes benefits and coverage simply and consistently so that members can compare plan benefits among and between insurance carriers. An example of an SBC can be found on the U.S. Department of Labor website.
  2. The SBC Glossary, which contains definitions of commonly-used health coverage and medical terms.

Key Points to Keep in Mind

  • For Risk Accounts: CareFirst will provide a URL link to the SBCs in PDF form with renewal materials and/or contracts to the employer group for distribution. The SBCs will contain integrated medical and Rx information if Rx is provided through CareFirst. Otherwise, the account needs to contact its Rx vendor to provide this information. Remember however, that SBCs will only be available if the employer’s plan is still actively marketed by CareFirst.
  • For Self-Insured Accounts: CareFirst will provide SBCs in Word format with renewal materials and/or contracts for the accounts to update, as necessary. There will be no charge for this service to self-insured accounts. Self-insured accounts are responsible for the accuracy of the SBC and are responsible for distributing the SBCs to their employees and other beneficiaries.
    • NOTE: The SBC format was determined by HHS, and HHS regulations specify the contents of the SBC. CareFirst cannot change or alter that content beyond what is permitted by regulation. CareFirst is restricted to the government-approved language and format. CareFirst is continuing to provide other plan summary materials, in addition to the SBC.
  • Any renewal quotes for products that CareFirst actively sells will contain a URL to the SBC. Technically, CareFirst is not required to provide an SBC for alternative quotes. We are required to provide SBCs for renewals and for the product the group selects or has selected. Therefore, we will not be generating SBCs for alternative quotes at this time. SBCs need to be generated only for accounts that are marked SOLD in Broker Express.
  • All contracts will contain the appropriate SBC in the form of a URL link to the SBC in PDF form.

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SBCs will be available only for actively-marketed products. SBCs for Groups or Individual members who have a product that is no longer marketed will be available on or before October 2013.