AFFORDABLE CARE ACT NOTICE REQUIREMENT
On October 1, 2013, individuals and small businesses will have the opportunity to enroll in the Health Insurance Marketplace (the Marketplace”) established under the Affordable Care Act. The open enrollment period will last until March 31, 2014. Beginning January 1, 2014, individuals and small businesses will have the opportunity to buy health care coverage offered through the Marketplace.
Prior to the open enrollment period, all employers, regardless of size, are required to notify their employees about the Marketplace. The notification requirement is often overlooked, especially by small businesses that believe that since they do not have to offer insurance under the Act, they do not have to notify their employees of the Marketplace. There are no exceptions for small employers.
These notices must be provided to current employees before October 1, 2013. For new employees after October 1, 2013, employers must provide notice at the time of hiring. In 2014, the Department of Labor will consider the notice as being provided at the time of hire if it is provided within 14 days of the employee’s start date. The notice must be delivered by first-class mail or electronically, subject to rules governing electronic disclosure.
Employees must be provided notice regardless of whether they are enrolled in the employer’s insurance plan. Spouses and dependents do not need to be provided notice.
SUBSTANCE OF THE NOTICE
The notice must inform the employee:
- of the existence of the Marketplace, including a description of the Marketplace, and the manner in which the employee may contact the Marketplace for help;
- that he/she may be eligible for a premium tax credit under section 36B of the Internal Revenue Code if the employee purchases a qualified health plan through the Marketplace;
- hat if he/she purchases a qualified health plan through the Marketplace, the employee may lose the employer’s contribution (if any) to any health benefits plan offered by the employer and that all, or a portion of, such contribution may be excludable from income for federal income tax purposes.
The Department of Labor has made model notices available for employers to use in order to meet the notice requirement. The Department has separate notices available for those employees whose employer’s offer health insurance coverage and those who do not offer a health plan. The notices are located on the Department of Labor’s website at http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/healthreform/ (see “Notice to Employees of Coverage Options: Model Notice for employers who offer a health plan to some or all employees and Model Notice for employers who do not offer a health plan).