The final rule amends current regulations to treat EAPs meeting certain conditions as excepted benefits. EAPs are typically free programs offered by employers that can provide a wide-range of benefits to address circumstances that might otherwise adversely affect employees’ work and health. Examples include short-term substance abuse or mental health counseling or referral services, as well as financial counseling and legal services. Under the final rule, EAPs are considered excepted benefits if the program is free to employees, if EAP benefits are not coordinated with benefits in a group health plan, and the EAP does not provide significant benefits in the nature of medical care or treatment.
Similarly, under the final rule, vision and dental benefits provided by employers on a self-insured basis qualify as excepted benefits, even if they do not require contributions from employees. Insured vision and dental benefits, as well as self-insured vision and dental coverage that requires employee contributions, already qualify as excepted benefits.