What Do All Those Acronyms in Employee Benefits Stand for?

Q: Everybody in the employee benefits field uses acronyms like HIPAA, ADA, FMLA, USERRA, etc. What do these and other employee benefit acronyms stand for?

A: Here's a list of the most commonly used acronyms that we use in our COBRA, HIPAA, ERISA, Cafeteria Plans, and Group Health Plans manuals, and what those acronyms stand for.

ADA - Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Pub. L. No. 101-336 (July 26, 1990), as amended.

AD&D - Accidental Death and Dismemberment. A type of insurance policy.

ADEA - Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, Pub. L. No. 90-202 (Dec. 15, 1967), as amended.

CFR - Code of Federal Regulations.

CMS - Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Formerly known as HCFA.

COBRA - Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985, Pub. L. No. 99-272 (April 7, 1986). Code - Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended.

DCAP - Dependent Care Assistance Program.

DOL - Department of Labor. See also EBSA.

EAP - Employee Assistance Program. Provides counseling and other services to employees.

EBSA - Employee Benefits Security Administration (formerly known as PWBA). An agency within the DOL.

EDI - Electronic Data Interchange. HIPAA's rules on electronic transactions.

EEOC - Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

EGTRRA - Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001, Pub. L. No. 107-16 (June 7, 2001).

EIC - Earned Income Tax Credit.

EOB - Explanation of Benefits. Issued by insurance companies to participants to explain what amount of their medical expenses was covered.

EOI - Evidence of Insurability. Sometimes called evidence of good health, often required by insurers before issuing a LTD or GTL policy.

ERISA - Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, Pub. L. No. 93-406 (Sept. 2, 1974), as amended.

FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions.

FICA - Federal Insurance Contribution Act. Refers to Social Security and Medicare taxes.

FMLA - Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, Pub. L. No. 103-3 (Feb. 5, 1993).

FSA - Flexible Spending Arrangement. An arrangement that provides a mechanism for participants to pay for certain medical and/or dependent care expenses on a pre-tax basis.

FUTA - Federal Unemployment Tax Act.

GLB - Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999, Pub. L. No. 106-102 (Nov. 12, 1999).

GTL Insurance - Group Term Life Insurance.

HCE - Highly Compensated Employee.

HCFA - Health Care Financing Administration. This agency has been renamed the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

HCTC - Health Coverage Tax Credit.

Health FSA - A Flexible Spending Arrangement (FSA) under which participants may obtain reimbursement for medical expenses.

HHS - Department of Health and Human Services.

HIPAA - Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, Pub. L. No. 104-191 (Aug. 21, 1996).

HMO - Health Maintenance Organization.

HRA - Health Reimbursement Arrangement.

IRC - Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended.

IRS - Internal Revenue Service.

JGTRRA - Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003, Pub. L. No. 108-27 (May 28, 2003).

LTD Plan - Long-Term Disability Plan. A plan that provides a partial income-replacement benefit to an employee unable to work because of a disability.

MEWA - Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangement. A special funding arrangement providing medical or other welfare benefits to employees of two or more employers.

MHPA - Mental Health Parity Act of 1996, Pub. L. No. 104-204 (Sept. 27, 1996).

MSA - Medical Savings Account. Also known as an Archer MSA.

MSP Rules - Medicare Secondary Payer Rules. Laws that require Medicare to be the secondary payer in most situations where a group health plan or private insurance carrier also provides coverage.

NAIC - National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

NHCE - Non-Highly Compensated Employee.

NMHPA - Newborns' and Mothers' Health Protection Act of 1996, Pub. L. No. 104-204 (Sept. 27, 1996).

OCR - Office for Civil Rights. An agency within HHS.

OHCA - Organized Health Care Arrangement.

OMB - Office of Management and Budget.

PCE - Preexisting Condition Exclusion.

PDA - Pregnancy Discrimination Act, Pub. L. No. 95-555 (Oct. 31, 1978).

PEO - Professional Employer Organization

PHI - Protected Health Information.

PHSA - Public Health Services Act, codified at 42 U.S.C. Chapter 6A.

POP - Premium-Only Plan. A type of cafeteria plan under Code Section 125 that permits employees to pay for their share of insurance premiums with pre-tax dollars.

PWBA - Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration. This agency has been renamed the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA).

QDRO - Qualified Domestic Relations Order.

QMCSO - Qualified Medical Child Support Order.

SAR - Summary Annual Report. Furnished to plan participants, it summarizes information from the Form 5500.

SBJPA - Small Business Job Protection Act of 1996, Pub. L. No. 104-188 (August 20, 1996).

SMM - Summary of Material Modifications. An ERISA-required summary of plan changes that a plan sponsor must distribute to participants and beneficiaries.

SPD - Summary Plan Description. An ERISA-required plan summary that must be furnished to participants and beneficiaries.

SSA - Social Security Administration.

TPA - Third-Party Administrator.

USC - United States Code.

USERRA - Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994, Pub. L. No. 103-354 (Oct. 13, 1994).

VEBA - Voluntary Employees' Beneficiary Association. Often operated as an exempt trust under Code Section 501(c)(9) as a funding vehicle for health and welfare benefits.

WHCRA - Women's Health and Cancer Rights Act, Pub.