Many employers mistakenly believe that all of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) were postponed this past July; unfortunately, only the employer mandate that imposed excise taxes on certain employers who did not offer affordable healthcare coverage was delayed. As of the writing of this blog, all of the other provisions of the ACA are to be implemented on schedule.
The next ACA deadline is October 1, 2013. This deadline requires all employers to provide their employees written notification about the health coverage options that are available through the health care ‘exchanges’ (also known as ‘marketplaces’) that were created under the ACA. Let’s review what employers must do regarding this written notice.
Does every employer need to provide notice?
The notice requirement appears to be determined by the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) definition of employer, which includes “any person acting directly or indirectly in the interest of an employer in relation to an employee.” While there are minor exceptions, employers would be well-advised to comply with this notice requirement.
Which employees must receive the notice?
All employees—full and part time, whether eligible for health care benefits or not, regardless of whether the employer provides any health care benefits.
What does the notice need to say?
The notice must inform the employee of the following:
o The existence of the exchange/marketplace
o Explain the services that the exchange/marketplace can provide to the employee and,
o How the exchange/marketplace can be found
o That an employee can receive federal assistance in paying for health coverage
o That the employer does not provide assistance in paying for coverage through a marketplace and that employer insurance coverage (if provided) is provided on a pre-tax basis
Is there a form notice that can be used?
Yes. The Department of Labor has created two model notices (one for employers who provide health coverage, one for employers who do not provide health coverage). The notices, which are found in English and Spanish, can be found at: http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/healthreform/index.html An example of one of the notices can be found here: http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/pdf/FLSAwithplans.pdf
How must the notice be given to employees?
The notice can be provided in hard copy, sent via U.S. first class mail, or electronically.
A new website by the Obama administration was recently launched to help businesses better understand the ACA and how to ensure your business is compliant. Visit the Healthcare Change Wizard to get started.
If you have questions regarding the ACA, written notices to your employees, compliance, or others any other areas of ACA, contact our Compensation & Benefits Advisory Services Group at 440-449-6800. Learn more – Read our recent blogs about the ACA and how it affects you and your business.