Temporary Guidance on the Employee Notice of Exchange Options
May 10, 2013
On May 8, 2013, the Department of Labor (DOL) provided temporary guidance and model notices that employers can use to inform their employees about the Exchanges, which will be available January 1, 2014. Please note that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) now calls the Exchange the "Health Insurance Marketplace," and DOL refers to the notice as the "Employee Notice of Coverage Options."
The original deadline for providing this notice to employees was March 1, 2013. The effective date has been changed to October 1, 2013 to coincide with the Exchange or Marketplace open enrollment period, which also begins on that date. Employers who want to start providing notices sooner can follow this temporary guidance and use these model notices. However, employers are not required to provide notices under this temporary guidance and can wait until formal guidance is provided later this year.
The notice requirement applies to all employers that are subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Most employers fall into this category, but there are exceptions. The following link may assist employers in making this determination: http://www.dol.gov/elaws/esa/flsa/scope/screen24.asp
Recipient and Distribution Requirements
This one-time notice must be provided to all current employees as of October 1, 2013 and to new employees as they are hired. For 2014, if the notice is provided within 14 days of an employee's start date, the notice will be considered as having been provided at the time of hiring.
Employers must provide a notice to all full-time and part-time employees, regardless of whether the employee is enrolled in an employer-sponsored medical plan. Employers must provide this notice even if they do not offer any health coverage to employees.
The notice does not have to be provided to employees' dependents.
Notices must be in writing and can be delivered electronically by the employer if the ERISA standards for electronic delivery are met.
What Must be Included in the Notice
There are two versions of the model notice:
Employers can use the model notices or create their own notice as long as the notice includes the following required information:
Changes to COBRA Notice
Employees and dependents who become eligible for COBRA will also have the option to purchase coverage through the Exchange/Marketplace and potentially receive a premium subsidy. The model COBRA notice that employers and COBRA administrators use has been revised to include information about the Marketplace.