As tree leaves start to turn colors in October here in the Midwest at the International Foundation headquarters, our minds are turning to other changes in the air for some employers, administrators, health providers and health insurance providers nationwide.  Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) may require your organization to post nondiscrimination compliance notices by October 17, 2016.

Is your organization subject to this deadline? Must you make changes to your health plan to be in compliance? Read on for background on this rule and for resources to help you comply if you are subject to the rules.


Section 1557 of ACA prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex (including gender identity), age or disability in many health programs and activities.

Covered entities under Section 1557 must notify members and the public of their compliant nondiscrimination policy. The notifications should take place by October 17, 2016. However, if a health plan needs to make changes to its plan design in order to comply with Section 1557, the changes must take effect on the first day of the first plan year beginning on or after January 1, 2017, and nondiscrimination notifications must occur within 90 days of that effective date.

[ACA University Webcast: Form 1094-C and Form 1095-C Updates for 2016]

Covered entities under Section 1557 include entities that receive federal financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). This includes, but is not limited to, health insurance issuers, health care providers, many third-party administrators (TPAs), and some group health plans and plan sponsors.

Generally, employers with self-administered (not third-party administered) health plans that are self-funded (not insured) and are not receiving any federal financial assistance from HHS are not subject to Section 1557.

However, one example of federal financial assistance that could apply to self-funded, self-administered health plans, therefore making them subject to Section 1557, would be Medicare Part D Retiree Drug Subsidies from HHS.

If you are unsure whether your organization is subject to Section 1557, please seek legal counsel. And do so before those leaves are on the ground! (This article is not intended as legal advice or comprehensive coverage of Section 1557 requirements.)

Resources you’ll need from HHS:

Training Materials for Section 1557

Sample Notice Informing Individuals about Nondiscrimination and Accessibility Requirements and Sample Nondiscrimination Statement

Nondiscrimination statement for significant publications and communications that are small-size

Sample Tagline Informing Individuals with Limited English Proficiency of Language Assistance Services

Translated Resources for Covered Entities

Estimates of at Least the Top 15 Languages Spoken by Individuals with Limited English Proficiency for the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Territories

Frequently Asked Questions to Accompany the Estimates of at Least the Top 15 Languages Spoken by Individuals with Limited English Proficiency under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)

Final Rule on Nondiscrimination in Health Programs and Activities; Federal Register, May 18, 2016

Other helpful resources explaining Section 1557 requirements:

Nondiscrimination Rule Expands Administrative Practices, Notice/Language Requirements and Transgender Coverage for Certain Plans, Cheiron, Inc., 2016

HHS Issues Final Rule on ACA Nondiscrimination Provisions (Section 1557), Groom Law Group, May 25, 2016

Is Your Health Plan Covered Under the New Section 1557 Nondiscrimination Rules? Graydon Head, September 12, 2016

Summary of HHS’s Final Rule on Nondiscrimination in Health Programs and Activities, Issue Brief, Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, July 14, 2016

Lois Gleason, CEBS
Manager, Reference/Research Services at the International Foundation


Lois Gleason, CEBS


Manager, Reference/Research Services at the International Foundation Favorite Foundation service/product: The Employee Benefits Survey (conducted every few years; it is very comprehensive) Benefits-related topic top picks: Affordable Care Act, multiemployer pension plans Favorite Foundation conference moment: Working the bookstore/information center at the Employee Benefit Symposium and meeting our members Personal Insight: Lois loves reading, especially literary classics like Jane Eyre and North and South. A Tale of Two Cities isn’t bad either. Every morning at breakfast she reads the daily newspapers…. yes, she still gets the paper versions because it’s not a big deal if a little coffee spills on them.

2 thoughts on “Section 1557 Nondiscrimination Rules Notices Required SOON

  1. Robert G. Stevens

    The documentation for Rule 1557 mentioned an assurance for compliance “on a form provided by HHS”. Are you aware of such a form? Thanks!

    1. Lois

      Hi Robert,
      I’m not aware of the form you’re referring to, but some of our readers may be. Does anyone care to share their thoughts on this?

Comments are closed.

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